Thursday, March 5, 2015

Review of The Skinny Gut Diet by Brenda Watson


The Skinny Gut Diet: Balance Your Digestive System for Permanent Weight Loss by Brenda Watson (from the PBS "Brenda Watson's Heart of Perfect Health PBS Special)  includes a 14-day Start-Up Food Plan and over 75 Recipes to get the reader started on her recommended gut cleaning diet.  The diet plan is fairly restrictive and may be challenging to follow, especially if you like to eat a lot of carbs.  The majority of the recipes, in this book, are for smoothies, which I found to be really easy to follow and convenient. The meal recipes are a little more challenging to make.  However, if you use the provided shopping list and follow the recipes, then it should not be too difficult.

The focus on the book is to improve the reader's gut health more than to lose weight.  For those who are or have suffered from digestive issues, you are probably already on a restricted diet anyway and may not be able to follow some of the suggestions in this book.  She recommends taking supplements, which you need to be wary of it you are on a restricted diet and taking medication.  The author is very thoughtful of her readers and does stress to check with your physician to make sure that this diet meets his or her approval.

If you are not on a doctor approved diet, then this book might be of help to you.   The author starts the book off with a discussion of how sugar is bad for your gut and how it directly affects the health of the gut.  She also reviews how important bacteria is for improved gut health and how that affects the body.

Here is a look at the "Table of Contents" for the book and a brief description of each:

Chapter 1 - A Remarkable Discovery - Guess who's coming to dinner.
                   This chapter goes over the importance of gut microbes and all the other interesting things that can be found in the gut area. 

Chapter 2 - Gut Bacteria - The Surprising Weight-loss Solution.
                   Good Bacteria = Fewer Calories
                   This chapter discusses what gut bacteria is made up of and how it leads to a lean gut or obese gut type.

Chapter 3 - Where did it go wrong.
                    This chapter goes over gut bacterial balance, how it is established and how it affected by what you eat.

Chapter 4 - The Proper Care and Feeding of your own gut bacteria.
                    This is a short chapter that goes into the performance of Probiotics and Prebiotics .

Chapter 5 - Your Gut Connection to Obesity and other common conditions.
                    This chapter is the cause and affect section.  You can see how IBS or Acid Reflux is directly related to the gut health.

Chapter 6 - The Gut-Brain Connection.
                    This chapter goes over the gut-brain connection and how what you eat affects how you feel, think, and more. The information in this chapter is really interesting.

Chapter 7 - The Skinny of Food.
                    If you think you are eating healthy, then think again.  She goes into the hidden sugars in refined food.  How some fruits and vegetables are better than others.  How important fiber is and different ways to add it to your diet in a healthy way.  The importance of staying hydrated and how you should drink a lot of water.

Chapter 8 - Teaspoon Tracker
                    This chapter gives you some tools to be able to more realistically track the amount of sugar you have in your diet and how to avoid it.

Chapter 9 - The Get Lean Phase
                    The author breaks down her recommended diet into two phases:
                     1) Get Lean 
                      2) Stay Lean 
                     This section is where she goes into more detail on the foods, fats, fermented foods, fruits, vegetables, proteins, etc. that are best suited for each phase.

Chapter 10 - Power Tools
                     This sections has recipes and snack ideas.

Chapter 11 - Skinny Gut Supplements
                     This section is on supplements that are good for the body.

Chapter 12 - The Stay Lean Phase
                      This is another really short chapter that just gives you the formula for staying lean and finding the right sugar balance for your body.

Chapter 13 - Food and Recipes to Get You Started
                     This chapter provides the reader with a two-week meal plan, healthy recipes (like turkey sausage patties, mini spinach omelets, Chicken salad and so many more), and some desert recipes as well.

Chapter 14 - Rescue Kit for Success
                     This is a very helpful chapter that shares with the reader ideas on how to eat out, dinner party tactics, Carb substitutes, Grocery shopping strategy, shopping list, and so much more. 

This is overall a very helpful book for anyone who is concerned with their gut health.  It is also helpful, if you are trying to minimize the amount of sugar you are exposed to in your diet.  The book is written in such a way that the reader can quickly read through the more technical stuff and jump to the recipes.  I really liked the recipe area, although, I should mention that there are no photos of the various dishes or anything else in this book.  It is truly focused on giving the reader as much information as possible to be successful on this diet.

Note: Thank you to the author and blogging for books for providing me a review copy of this book.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Review of Whimsic Alley Store in Los Angeles | A Harry Potter meets Doctor Who Shopping Experience

Whimsic Alley is not just another Harry Potter fan merchandise store,

it is more of a "Harry Potter" meets "Doctor Who" smashed up shopping experience.  Beyond a great selection of fantasy and/or science fiction themed merchandise, they also have some great props.
Photo by Magenta at Faire




The owners of this great store put a lot of thought into it and created an experience instead of just another store.  There is a Tardis in a quiet corner and a weeping angel statue to greet you.

As you walk into the store, you immediately are transported to a fun environment.  Each person is immediately greeted by the fun and friendly staff at the store.  The store is broken down to resemble the wonderful Diagon Alley of the Harry Potter Book fame. Each mini shop is also broken down into really cute themed sections.

Photo by Magenta at Faire

There is a shop that focuses on Sherlock Holmes fan themed merchandise.
Another themed shopping area is completely focused on the  Dr. Who (my personal favorite) series.
There are all types of toys and collectibles sold in this area.

Photo by Magenta at Faire


Game of Thrones is also well represented in the Game of Thrones Merchandise Room. That is stocked with some great Funko figures.

And of course they have a Harry Potter area, that features candy like Bertie Bott's Jelly Beans, Chocolate Frogs and so much more.

You can also find just about every type of Harry Potter Merchandise you could want.  This includes a wonderful selection of fine wands and statues.
They also have death eater masks.
And for those Quidditch fans, the store stocks a great selection of broomsticks.

There are even some fun  Harry Potter and Ron Cardboard Stand ups that are fun to take pics with.  If that is isn't enough I saw Hogwarts School Uniforms Supplies, and a really well made Harry Potter Wizards Chess Set.

We went there for a special "Whimsic Alley Tea" event.  These were some of the very cute invitations to the party.

Each guest was provided a beginners to wand for their magical enjoyment, along with the cute invitations.  The tea area (which no longer exists...sadly)..had a beautiful tea luncheon set up.
Photo by Magenta at Faire

The tea cart lady arrived with a fun selection of candy and trinkets.
Photo by Magenta at Faire
The store sometimes carries green grab bags which are a really great deal and filled with some interesting stuff.


My two grab bags had a bunch of different products in them which includes the items in the photo below.  Each bag also contained a "hatching dragon", some game card sets and buttons.

The selection of merchandise in this store is vast.  I even found my favorite Dr. Who tea pot with the words "Bad Wolf" on it.  This is a mini Brown Betty style pot which is just perfect for about 3 cups of tea.

We decided this was a great opportunity to wear some of our Comic Con costumes, and all showed up in different costumes from very different genres.

The store stocks Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Sherlock Homes, Game of Thrones and so much more.  They just recently did some renovations to make the shopping area larger, thus allowing them to carry and even bigger selection of fun merchandise.

This is a great place to take the kids of all ages.  We had a blast and took some fun pictures there.



Just know that the temptation to buy will be great so you might want to make a list of the things you really want in order to remain focused with all the cool merchandise available.

Note: I have no affiliation with this shop, I just like shopping there.  Their customer service is great and the selection is even better.





Thursday, February 26, 2015

FaveCrafts.com Blogger Craft Project Design Contest Voting is Open

This years FaveCrafts.com blogger craft project design contest is official open for voting.  I would love it if my readers would go to the site and vote for my project at:

http://www.favecrafts.com/contest/blogger-contest

The sponsors sent us bloggers a tote bag full of craft products which we were supposed to use to design an easy project.  I entered this owl pendant made from paper book tags.



When I saw these cute little owl tabs, I realized they were perfect for making jewelry pieces from.



A very quick and easy craft to do.  The instructions for the project are on the FaveCrafts website.


Monday, February 23, 2015

The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet by Margaret Hubert | Book Review


If you have every wanted to add to your crochet stitch knowledge base then this book is for you.  
The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet: *All You Need to Know to Crochet *The Essential Reference for Novice and Expert Crocheters *Comprehensive Guide ... *Packed with Hundreds of Tips and Ideas  by Margaret Hubert is an excellent visual reference book of stitches for the not only the beginner but for the more advance individual who wants to add new stitches and techniques to their repertoire.




This is not a typical step-by-step how to book.  The author does include some step-by-step instructions for the more basic stitches.  However, I think that it is the vast selection of stitches that Margaret has chosen to include that make this such a fabulous book to add to my personal library.  The book is more technique driven than a traditional book.  I love that.  The book also offers some very informative tips and ideas to help the reader. 




The collection of stitches in this book are beautifully photographed so that the reader gets a clear idea of how the stitch should look with a photo of a swatch made up with that stitch.   I also enjoyed the challenge of learning some of the more complicated stitches and am looking forward to designing some holiday projects using those stitches.  

Note: this is not a sponsored post.  I enjoy reading craft book and sharing them with others.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Organic Artist by Nick Neddo | Book Review



The Organic Artist: Make Your Own Paint, Paper, Pigments, Prints and More from Nature is a great book for anyone who loves exploring new methods of creating art from nature, found objects and up cycled items.  Nick Neddo has organized this book in an interesting manner; each section is separated in a manner similar to a cookbook.  Within that section, the author has information, tips and step-by-step instructions.  They are well written and easy to follow.  If you are wondering what type of information is covered in this book, then take a peek at the video.



Organic Artist Table of Contents:
1.     Charcoal
a.     Simple Charcoal
b.     Charcoal Sticks
c.      Charcoal Holders
d.     Blending Stumps (Tortillion)
2.     Pens
a.     Simple Pens
b.     Bamboo (reed) pens
c.      Quill Pens
d.     Felt Tipped/Camp Tipped Pens
3.     Inks
a.     Ink Basics
b.     Ink History
c.      Simple Inks
                                               i.     Coffee Ink
                                              ii.     Beet Ink
                                            iii.     Berry Inks
d.     Less-Simple Inks
                                               i.     Acorn Ink
                                              ii.     Black Walnut Ink
                                            iii.     Soot Ink
4.     Inkwells and Paint Dishes
a.     Clay Vessels
b.     Bone Inkwells
5.     Paintbrushes
a.     Gnawed Twig Brushes
b.     Tied Bundle Brushes
c.      Brushes with Ferrules
6.     Pigments and Paints
a.     Paints and Binders
b.     Mineral Pigments and Paints
7.     Crayons
a.     Crayon Molds
b.     Waxy Drawing Sticks
8.     Paper
a.     Make a Simple Mold
b.     Make a Pulp
c.      The Paper-Making Process
d.     Sizing Paper
9.     Printmaking
a.     Tools and Materials for the Old Woodblock Printing Process
b.     The Rustic Brayer
c.      Options for Printing
10. Sketchbooks and Journals
a.     The Coptic Stitch
b.     Book Cover Options
11. Gallery
12. Bibliography
13. Index
14. Acknowledgements
15. About the Author


In the pen making section of The Organic Artist, the author shows various ways to make pens like Bamboo Reed Pens, Quill Pens, Felt Tipped/Clamp Tipped Pens, and other related items.  The photos are easy to follow and the projects can be reproduced with locally found items.   The ink making projects are even easier to do and offer some great ideas for making one’s own ink. 

I really love the illustrations and photos in this book.  They are clear and well placed to make it easy to follow the projects.  My daughter and I tried the “Tied Bundle Brushes” which came out great and were so interesting to use.  This book is great for anyone seeking to create art with upcycled or found items. 


If you want to check out one of the projects from the book, just go the Craftside Blog at: http://bit.ly/1wNwYAr