Monday, October 27, 2014

Vegan Fish? Review of Sophie's Kitchen Vegan Fish Patties from Whole Foods Stores

Last week I was in our new Whole Foods and came across a section of Sophie's Kitchen products. I looked at the freezer and thought "vegan fish, could it be!" I told my husband I had to try these so I took a box home and tried them for dinner. I did the bake version of the instructions because I am not a pan fried girl.

According to the printed instructions, they take approximately 35 minutes to bake after you pull the four patties apart and place them on a baking sheet. They were so frozen together, even after thawing ten minutes I decided to bake them anyway. They had a light breading on them so I should have ran the package under hot water but usually that makes vegetarian products soggy in texture even after baking. I baked them in my oven which usually cooks faster than recommended cooking times; but it didn't. They were still frozen hard in the middle and of course getting soggy from being frozen and still stuck together after half an hour.

They took a total of 45 minutes to bake and they had a slight lemon batter scent to them. Texture wise, they crumbled and did not flake or come out close to a filet but I tried them anyway. The taste was alright but not even close to fish. The box advertises they taste great and are a great substitute for those with fish allergies or who love fish but are trying to eat more animal-friendly. I recommend the pan fried version so you can flavor them more and get a better texture.

On the back of the box, they also stated a breaded shrimp and calamari version which I may try. I don't completely pan this company but I do recommend extra flavoring yourself in a pan and as a side instead of the main entrée for flavor and substance. Nice try though Sophie.

Friday, October 17, 2014

New Books for Young Readers

Do you have young children under 10 looking for great books to read for bedtime or exploration? Here are a couple of titles to download from Amazon right now! Also visit the author at to click "Like" and get all of the links to her amazing stories.

Down Under: The Adventures of Prince Robbie is a magical book series that takes you around the world from Australia and to America. Book 2 will be released soon.
Oh the difference a tree makes. Beauty in life is fleeting but nature is a beauty we can preserve forever. A Tree for a Meadow is available now to inspire all kids to love their world.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Men's Fashion

Be honest, if you're reading this your man is not the best dresser or maybe he is the worst. Dressing well doesn't take as much effort or time in the stores as men seem to think. Whether you are 25 or 65, putting together a great look can be simple, painless, and even comfortable.

When you are trying to help someone dress better and they are reluctant with the change or particular about every piece you bring forward, start with the basics; a nice shirt, sweater, and a pair of pants go a long way. Once you get the easy stuff out of the way, men usually ease up their concerns and take more help when they know you're not going to make them look like a crazy bum on the street or circus model.

Here are simple looks that are also easy to tweak for style, fit, and color:

The first look is Polo Ralph Lauren. The pullover Pima cotton sweater is comfortable, easy fashion, that you can pair with chino pants, denim jeans, slacks, or even shorts and cargos. It is a very effortless look that can easily be dressed with a blazer or overcoat for an evening out or social gathering. Underneath, just pick a basic long sleeve button up sport shirt or dress shirt for the collar and cuffs to be an extra color and statement piece. This is easy too because most men look excellent in a classic white or baby blue shirt; these two colors complement most any man and skin color, whether he has blue eyes, green, or brown. The other benefit is either color is multipurpose so it will for certain be a staple piece for other wardrobe ideas.

Next is a casual male outfit with properly fitting denim jeans, a nice belt, tucked in long sleeve button up again in white or baby blue, and a soft neutral sport jacket. This is another great look for any age because great fits look great on every man; and jeans and a simple, clean shirt are basic must haves for every man's closet. For the jacket, sometimes older men prefer to be a little more dressed up even for casual affairs so swap the tan or taupe for a navy blazer and don't roll the cuffs. The jacket will still look excellent on any skin color or frame size, and it's very easy to put together. There are no crazy colors, silly accessories, and it's multifunctional. Again, sticking with basic staple items means it is easy to convert a man into better style and using those same pieces over again with slight modifications here and there like different pants, shoes, or different color shirts. You don't need to pull out eight copies of Vogue and scare him half to death with the way the young models are being dressed today. These looks are for every man, nearly every occasion, other than formal affairs, and any age.

Here are two great casual looks for everyday wear. The first is another simple pull over V-neck Henley sweater that is a lighter weight cotton and obviously less dressed up. Underneath, all you need is a white t-shirt and some darker khaki pants to pair with. The color of the Henley long sleeve doesn't even matter, but navy is always a good all-around color most men won't disagree with and anyone can pull it off.

Underneath is a look composed of darker wash jeans, rolled at the bottom but still fitting properly in a straight leg cut, a dark corduroy jacket, and a Polo Ralph Lauren shirt from fall 2013. The shirt may not be everyone's style but notice the colors and the contrast they make to the jacket and darker denim. If you don't like stripes or those colors, stick with again navy or blue tones since they do make a nice choice with any coat color. The mix of reds, blues, and yellows, here offers a nice choice of contrast and added substance. Some men, especially a little older, like a pale yellow with brown jackets which will provide a clean look and appropriate contrast as well.

For formal looks, I like these options for most any man of any age because they are very well put together, and with the right fit, would make a terrific suit on anyone:
On top we have an old fashioned yet gorgeous black suit with a light grey vest underneath, black tie, and white dress shirt. Everything is simple, clean cut, fits well, is classic and elegant, and tailored to fit right. Everyone can pull of this look and this ensemble does work well for formal occasions including business dinners and weddings. If it is a black tie affair add some nice cufflinks, a pocket square, and swap for a bowtie if you must, but this look is perfection.

Next, is a suit that is a little more bold for some because of the stripes and separate patterns. Two different prints can go together if you do them right and one does not overbear the other. The grey pinstriped suit complements the colors of the silver and blue spotted tie nicely, and the perfectly folded white handkerchief in the pocket is a nice little break up of pattern as well. Simple things make the biggest differences while also keeping the outfit subtle as to not take away from the dashing appearance from the suit. Add a nice watch in silver or black; you don't need any other accessories other than a tie clip as shown which also is a subtle finish. The suit should stand out on its own with the tie, so adding flashy accessories only takes away from the beauty of the set.

For men willing to open up and be a little more daring, here are a few other outfits you can make your own:

Notice on the white suite the sky blue jacket for nice color and the tan belt for contrast from the white on white shirt and slacks. Also the Burberry scarf above is a simple, handsome accessory for many wardrobe compilations.

If you have a very casual male or younger style to dress, here are some great examples of mixing the right items together:

As you can see, great fashion isn't hard, you just have to start putting some pieces together and find the right core items for your wardrobe that can be used anytime of year with most any other selections. Remember fit is also extremely important so make sure your man finds the right fit for him that is comfortable and feels appropriate for his age and body type.

Jennifer Larson is a Men's Polo Ralph Lauren Specialist in California for Macy's and Ralph Lauren.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mark Cuban Makes Bold Proclamation of Prejudices

 Recently another NBA owner admitted to his own prejudices following the backlash from Donald Sterling. Here is a small EXCERPT from the interview that Mark Cuban gave.

We all have opinions on what is considered racist and offensive. I am not supporting nor degrading his views, I am simply putting them out in front for all.

"If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it's late at night, I'm walking to the other side of the street," he said. "And if on that side of the street there's a guy that has tattoos all over his face – white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere – I’m walking back to the other side of the street."

In my opinion:
True for far more people than who are willing to admit. We all have minor prejudices, voluntary or circumstantial, and that's just how life is. I think I'd just keep walking but we're all different and have past experiences that dictate our choices and our reflexes.

It is important to note that Cuban also apologized and made clear his references were in no way directed or regarding Trayvon Martin but understood how his example could be hurtful to the slain boy's family.

Great new books for young readers 5-7

We all know what life is like here on land, but for most kids it's what is under the sea that matters to them....

When we are on land, most of us grew up playing in a special spot each summer day; and even now, it's still a special memory for us.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Craft time!

Moms love to keep their little ones busy and build their development at the same time. When it's raining or snowing outside, or the kids just want to play inside, crafts are great way to spark their creativity and have fun as a family! Today I decided my son and I should make little airplanes out of toilet papers rolls and recycled boxes. Here is a sample of what you can make!


Here is my question to you all today. It is simple and sweet. I want to know...

what makes you smile? That's it.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Are we ready to Empty the Tanks?

     Think about your first visit to Sea World or a marine park; what did you think? What was the moment that captured your heart? For some of us it was Shamu’s first leap out of the water, for others it’s feeding and petting a dolphin. When I was a little girl I dreamed of being a trainer and caretaker for Sea World. I was the biggest fan of Sea World of any person on the planet and could draw a detailed map from memory and know the grounds better than the owner of the company.  I grew up near Palm Springs and we didn’t have an ocean nearby of course. When my mom moved down to Florida, she knew I craved to be by the ocean so she bought me a season pass to Sea World every summer. We went almost every day and I was obsessed with the park; especially the animals. Sea World gave me the ability to pet and feed dolphins right in front of me. I could be feet away from orcas and manatees. I knew from my first visit that I would always love these animals. I knew I would always do what I thought was best for them.

     For years I would go to each exhibit and watch blissfully for hours at the manatees, dolphins, and of course Shamu stadium. I always quietly wondered about the orcas in particular. I thought their aquariums seemed a little small but they seemed to have endless gates leading to other pools. I did think it was weird that all gates weren’t open at once so the whales could swim through the entire enclosure but I was young and in love with them so I didn’t pay enough attention to the tanks. That is the trick with Sea World, they bring an experience you can’t get in most places that entrances your emotions so your eyes look beyond what is right there. The problem is the lack of accommodation of such species and the replication of their natural habitats. What the ocean provides is something man doesn’t seem capable of producing nor should it. When you were young and visiting Sea World, did you have any outward or hidden concerns about the park or question any enclosure you saw? How about the Wild Arctic exhibit? I felt it could never be real enough, because no experience could ever be cold enough for the animals or humans to emulate the arctic regions, so how can those animals survive as long in conditions their body wasn’t designed for or feel at home in such small pools and temperatures that must feel hot to them? An exhibit of the arctic could never be real because it would be too cold for any human to visit with children. I had more questions each year.

     Cutting to the present, I have taken my son to Sea World once and he loved it. He found the same love that I did and to harvest that love I am trying to steer him from the commercialized marine parks and show them all the amazing places in nature you don’t see on every other commercial. For his sixth birthday we are taking him to Catalina Island for a week to whale watch, snorkel, walk on the peer, and watch the ocean from the cliff edges. I understand the appeal of Sea World, I love the animals so much and I feel sad now that they aren’t with their pods in the wild. The dolphins were always my favorite but after a few years, I noticed that the dolphins in the encounter were hit and miss during feeding times. They didn’t always like being pet or people around, and the busier it was, the less enthused they appeared to be. I noticed on slower business days and later in the afternoon, I could feed them more easily and they would come up to me and stay still for me to pet them. During these visits, the dolphins acted happier and more eager to spend time with me. I came to the conclusion they are friendly creatures willing to accept us but like humans, need their space; and they don’t like a bunch of kids running around screaming and slapping the water! I don’t blame them. They don’t mind a little attention but most of the day being in a busy park is stressful and depressing for them.

     I cannot express how much I love these animals and want them to be happy in the wild. I love them all with all of my heart but the older I am the more I wish Sea World would be the first to correct their legacy, to free the long captive whales and dolphins, and truly become the rehabilitation facility they market themselves as. Rescuing injured animals to release them within two months in good health is a great cause, but no animal needs to be held for years or decades. It has been said that when the Anheiser-Busch family sold their beer company which owned the parks, the new company did not want the parks; but they were a part of the deal. I hope one day some rich person with a caring soul turns this company around for the best health of these animals so we can still appreciate the experience but also let them quickly go back to their home. Sea World should be looking into whale watching tours and more rides in the park like the Orlando location next, instead of enclosures. I hope one day to awaken to a headline stating Sea World has taken a drastic turn in their policies and all other marine parks will follow suit. Changes can be made to keep the unique experiences and the jobs in a kinder harmony.

     I continue to support the efforts for Sea World to change their mission and the public to voice their oppositions of the park’s current practices. I believe in the power of the people and that every single voice matters. I have always said that if someone does not believe in the significance of one’s voice, they should go away and be quiet because their negativity is the voice that won’t make a difference. They are also not a true friend to you if they believe your voice is weak and irrelevant. If you know it’s right, never hesitate to stand up for the cause.

     One of the things we can do now for future generations is start our children young. We can take them on whale watching tours and places where they can see animals in the wild. If we expose them to the beautiful reality of nature and what is normal for our ocean’s creatures, they will better know the difference between the wild and the sad truth behind killer whales in swimming pools. Orcas and dolphins are not meant to be captured and bred for money, they are meant to amaze us for life in the open ocean. Other resources for our children are nature shows and books that help them understand why it is so important animals remain at a safe distance in the wild, away from humans.

     A few years ago I self-published a children’s book series about keeping our oceans clean, respecting the beauty of the wild, and saving marine animals from aquariums and Sea World. That book is now the message I use to help my young son learn about captivity and choosing observation of these creatures in the wild instead of parks. While writing this piece, my son watched The Whale, a documentary about an abandoned killer whale named Luna who befriended a small town in Canada in order to receive attention. This whale broke down the barriers of people and ocean predator. Even in the wild, the constant interaction with people initiated by the whale made officials assume this was bad for him. Why is it bad for whales in their own habitat and dangerous for both us and him, yet in captivity it is fine and legal? If interacting with a whale in the ocean is bad for him and us, certainly a pool and a group of trainers with thousands watching is far more damaging to the physical and mental health of orcas. The growing evidence and increase in incidents is showing millions that it’s time to let these animals free and let them remain in the open ocean.

      This is a movement we have to keep alive if it is to change anything. Support is growing for these animals to be saved, but watching Blackfish won’t be enough to end the captures. To save them, we have to be conscientious of our wallets and not be afraid to say something. Let’s help them all go home healthy. Spread the love and it will eventually travel where it needs to be.



Thursday, March 13, 2014

New Workouts!!!!

I am training to become a certified Pilates instructor so I have been formulating my own workouts for my followers here and on Pinterest. I am starting with basic workouts that tone and burn calories. Not all moves are Pilates moves but they help our muscles and can easily be incorporated into routines with Pilates exercises. Here are my newest workouts, prepare for them to increase intensity and difficulty as the weeks progress. I want to hear about your progress as well.