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Adventures in Cooking

Anyone that knows me knows that I live to cook and bake. While I’m not creative when it comes to cake decorating, I’m much better at the whole “making it taste good” sort of thing. I have a weird family type situation that I cook for. I live with Ross, who is my boyfriend, and his 9 year old daughter, Allison. I have a 14 year old son that is actually the biological son of my ex-husband (that is a long, long story – but the short version is he’s my son and anyone that says otherwise is wrong), Andreu. And then there’s my ex-husband, who’s a great guy and we get along really well, Chris. I cook about 5-6 days a week, either at home or at Chris’ house once a week while I visit Andreu. My challenge: Finding things that my family will eat. Their tastes are sort of plain – salt  amp; pepper, a little garlic powder, and they will use some Italian Seasoning once in a while. They like hamburger, chicken, hotdogs, some Polish Sausage and a little bit of Fish. So you can see how limited that I am in trying new things.

Lately, has been my best tool to use. I’ve been able to find a few recipes that have turned out pretty well. And some have not gone over well at all. Below are the Culinary Adventures for the past week to bring you all up to speed.

Monday night:

This was my own concoction and Allison (the nine year old) named it “Kelly’s Surprise” probably because you’ll never know exactly what’s in it. Ross can’t eat “boxed” dinners like Hamburger Helper, so I make a homemade version that is the base for this meal. Monday night I realized that I had plenty of Cheese, but not enough Pasta to make the meal. I usually use elbow Macaroni, but since I was running so low, I added some spaghetti noodles. I also added some frozen peas to make it a little bit healthier. The night before we had grilled out and I had 4 leftover hotdogs, so I sliced them up and dropped them in there as well. Ross and Allison liked it, but I think next time I’ll go back to hamburger and make sure I have enough elbow pasta.

Tuesday night:

Cheeseburger Pizza! ( I found this recipe on the Pillsbury website and it turned out wonderfully. I did substitute Tomato Sauce for the Ketchup, but it was a big hit! Andreu even at it for late night snack when he was over at my house later in the week. This will definitely be a use again recipe. I will try this as a party food for the next get together that we have. I think it’s be great cut into little squares.

Wednesday night:

Tonight was a pretty common night in our house. I made Cubed Steak, mashed potatoes and green beans. Nothing fancy, except I baked the steak, which still made it a little tough for my tastes. I have yet to figure out how to make cubed steak tender. I’ve beat it to death and I’ve put tenderizer on it. Ross loves cubed steak, so I just keep working on it. I also realized that non stick pans are one of the best utensils to use for you to come up with a tender steak. Investing in this kind of pan is really advisable.

Thursday night:

This was our eat out night. If you are in the Jacksonville, Florida area and you are looking for a good place to eat, try Dick’s Wings on Old St. Augustine Road. They have wings, burgers, and the best New York Style Pizza in town!

Friday night:

This was a recipe that I’d been wanting to try for a couple of weeks. Chicken Nachos ( – This turned out great! Served with some Pace Salsa and Sour Cream and was quickly eaten up. I’ll be making this again for a party, I’m sure. Not quite enough for just a meal. Good thing it was Friday night and there was other stuff to be eaten. This meal turned into a “Junk Food Night”.

Saturday night:

I found this while looking for something quick and easy using some things that we already had on hand – Easy Crunchy Hot Dogs ( We had hot dogs in the freezer, and instead of corn flakes, I used Tortilla Chips (since we had this on hand). It was eaten, but when I asked Ross what he thought, he said it was interesting. Which is code for “Let’s not have this again”. Which is okay with me, at least he tried something new.

Sunday night:

This was another recipe I found while trying to use things we already had on hand. Porcupines ( . This was like meatballs, so I made them with Spaghetti Noodles and a really thick Tomato Sauce. They were okay, but I think I’ll be looking for a different recipe for making meatballs. I think Bobby Flay has a recipe for great meatballs…hmm…

My cooking is not only limited to dinners. I love to bake and there are tons of breads, muffins, and cakes that I am going to be trying in the next few months. Luckily my coworkers are all game when I bring in new things to try. I also want to try new breakfast items. I love making breakfast on the weekends, especially brunch on Sundays. And I’m amassing quite a collection of recipes to try.

My goal is to post weekly about the new things I’m learning to make and how well they are received in my household. Hopefully this will inspire othre people to start cooking different things. I’d love to hear what you try and how it came out. Feel free to email me –

Nutrition Labels: Food Allergy Protection or Alternative Mumbo Jumbo

One of the first rules of thumb I learned as the mother of a child with food allergies was to read the nutrition label of every food before bringing it into the home. Nutrition labels are required to warn consumers if the food contains one of the top eight food allergens, but this tried and trusted method of keeping children safe may soon be considered another false hope or alternative medicine. An upswing in Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalls for undeclared food allergens has parents thinking twice about the perceived safety the nutrition label provides.

Are Food Labels Just More Alternative Hype?

Alternative medicine is any medical treatment not currently proven with clinical study. Up to 38% of Americans use alternative medicine, complementary medicine or a combination of both to self treat or control medical conditions. Food labels are supposed to provide accurate information about ingredients used in foods, which is why parents of children with food allergies are educated on the importance of reading food labels, however, not all companies provide accurate nutrition labels. If a food is found to contain an undeclared food allergen it is recalled by the FDA, but the damage may have already been done. With the purchase of the best probiotic products, a protection will be provided to the health of the person. There will be reduction in the allergies related to the consumption of the body. The charges of the products will be less and label should be provided at the packet. The medical treatment will be advantageous for the person for long period. 

FDA Food Allergen Labeling Guidelines

According to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004, food companies must warn consumers if a food contains one of the eight most common food allergens; soybeans, wheat, milk, egg, tree nuts, peanuts, fish or shellfish. The food allergen must be listed with the common name, but the FDA does not require companies to reveal food allergens if they are included as part of flavorings, spices or coloring. This means despite the law, foods can contain food allergens in quantities that may cause a life-threatening reaction in some consumers without noting the allergen on the label.

Undeclared Food Allergens and FDA Recalls

Despite the push from the FDA to read food labels to protect again food allergy reactions, food companies continue to produce, mislabel and sell foods containing one or more of the eight common food allergens. The food recalls are often sparked by consumer complaints, like the recall of Tyson Premium Chunk Chicken for undeclared wheat, but others are found during routine inspections and testing performed by the FDA.

Can Parents Continue to Trust the First Line of Defense Against Food Allergens?

Children and adults with food allergies have to eat to live, but finding healthy, safe foods can be extremely hard when food companies incorrectly label products that contain food allergens. Some parents choose to stick with a whole food diet, but even whole foods like meat are being recalled in record quantities due to undeclared food allergens. The safety of children and adults with food allergies depends on accurate food labeling. If the FDA cannot bring food companies inline, reading nutrition labels may soon be considered just another alternative medicine providing a flimsy safety net at best.

Simply Orange No Pulp Orange Juice Vs. Tropicana Premium No Pulp Orange Juice

Orange Juice is the lifeblood of my family. We drink it as much as we drink water. The kids even drink it in juice boxes. Once we got on a healthier eating kick, we wanted to make sure we had the best orange juice you can keep in the house because, frankly, some of the orange juice out there really isn’t that good for you or really doesn’t have that much orange juice, to begin with.

That being said, we’ve switched from the cheap-tasting stuff to better brands that contain no pulp. I’m not a fan of pulp. I don’t trust it unless I squeezed my own juice. They might as well be bug parts if I buy pulped juice. This week, we tried out the Simply Orange and the Tropicana Pure Premium brands of orange juice. I’ll compare the price, taste, calories in orange juice, and nutrition for each one and show you the family’s selection of the best juice.

A little background info on the brands. I had never heard of Simply Orange until last year. According to the website, Simply Orange has only been around since 2001. I don’t know how long they’ve been around because I was just accustomed to buying whichever brand didn’t look cheap but didn’t cost too much. They’re based out of Apopka, Florida, and they claim not to freeze or concentrate the oranges they use to make the juice. Simply Orange also makes Simply Lemonade and their juices come in many brands like “with pulp” or “with calcium”.

Tropicana, on the other hand, has been here for what seems like a century or two but really since 1947. They make a multitude of products; too many to list. We used to buy their pulp-free juices that came in the boxes and we were satisfied with their products.


Where we shop, Simply Orange is going to cost you around dollar more for the same amount of juice as Tropicana Premium. We pay $3.19 for 1.75 liters, whereas the Tropicana Premium costs $2.04. They look like the same bottle, too, with the clear design and hourglass figure (what could they be hinting at?).


Nutrition is the same, ingredient for ingredient, in both juices. However, the Simply Orange has 120% Vitamin C compared to 110% in the Tropicana Premium. They both claim “not from concentrate” on the front, but Simply Orange also says “100% Pure Squeezed Orange Juice”. You won’t find that on Tropicana Premium. Tropicana Premium’s label describes it as “pure and natural.”


This is where Simply Orange spent that extra dollar. There is a noticeable difference in taste. Simply Orange really does taste like someone went through the trouble of squeezing the juice and straining out the pulp just for me and left some pure goodness. It doesn’t have that bitter, citric acid taste that can come if you don’t sweeten your own fresh juice. It is just smooth to the tongue. That is a tasty beverage!

The Tropicana one isn’t bad, either. I think I would like it more had I not tried Simply Orange right after it. It’s kinda like thinking your DSL connection is pretty fast until you get some serious, high-speed cable action. You just don’t want to go back even if it costs more.

All in all, we’re going to spend the extra buck for the Simply Orange. It just tastes like some high quality work and care went into each orange. If we’re just really short on cash and I need to save a buck, the Tropicana won’t be a bad choice. But Simply Orange is just simply better.


Ten Questions Your Dog Walker Should Ask You

You have been looking for someone to walk your dog, you think you have found a responsible, caring person to take on the role (see my article on ten questions you should ask a dog walker) and now it is down to the “nitty gritty”. How, precisely is the dog walker going to make sure you and your precious pooch get the very best out of the arrangement?

If you think of the walks you enjoy with your dog, you will see that there is a lot more to it than simply providing exercise and picking up poop. A walk is an opportunity for a dog to have fun, to explore and to satisfy a natural curiosity. A walk is a chance for you to reinforce your dog’s training and teach new things. Most vets and behaviourists suggest that the walk is the most important part of a dog’s day and, as a professional dog walker, I totally agree.

They make it a point to repeat this information each and every time you pay a visit to their clinic which isn’t bad as certain people are careless when it comes to dealing with their dog’s health so it is a good gesture on their part that shows how much they value the lives of animals being vets.

A dog walker should be keen to make every walk a good experience for your dog, whilst providing you, the owner, with total peace of mind, and will only achieve this if provided with the right information. The dog walker should, therefore, be asking the following questions:

  1. Is your dog up to date with vaccinations and worming? If you are not being asked for this information, then neither are those clients whose dogs may be walked with yours. You would not knowingly put your dog in the proximity of potentially sick animals and neither should a dog walker
  1. May I have the contact details of your vets practice and an emergency contact number for you? Anyone with any empathy for a caring dog owner should know the importance of keeping the client informed of any problems. It is worth agreeing with your dog walker the emergency process. My clients have agreed that, in a serious situation, I would first ask a vet to stabilise the dog and deal with any immediate issues, such as pain, bleeding or breathing, and then call the owner, as soon as possible, for instructions.
  1. Do you want your dog to be given “treats” on the walk, if so, which brands? It is irresponsible to feed an animal anything without the agreement of the owner. Some pooches have pouches (weight issues), others have allergies and some have sensitive tummies. Some dog owners use treats as rewards or enticements, others prefer to adopt different training methods. A dog walker should be guided by the owner in these matters, not only for the sake of the dog’s well-being but also because dogs thrive on consistency.
  1. What commands do you use for your dog? Again, consistency is key. There would be little point in shouting “Fido come!” to a dog who is used to responding to “Fido here!” The dogs I walk respond to a variety of individual recall commands, including “What’s this?”, “This way!”, “One – two – three!” and “Look at me!”. This is not too much of a problem as I have worked out which dogs follow the others back, and therefore call the “followed” first! Sitting at the kerb is a must for some of the dogs I walk, whilst others are asked to “wait” or “stop”. Essentially, a good dog walker will want to use the owner’s commands.
  1. What sort of walk does your dog enjoy? A caring dog walker will always ask this question but, if walking several dogs at a time, may not be able to please “all of the dogs all of the time”. I walk some pooches who like to run like crazy on the beach and others who prefer to sniff and explore. Conveniently, we can have half an hour on the beach and stop off at a park on the way home, by which time the runners have burnt off some energy and are happy to join the sniffers.
  1. Does your dog get on well with other dogs? A conscientious dog walker will find out where the problems, if any, lie. Many dogs, for example, are fearful of greeting strange dogs whilst on lead; others may take a dislike to certain breeds of dog. This information will help the dog walker to take dogs out in appropriate groups, to plan walks by, if necessary, avoiding certain areas and to anticipate and manage potential problems.
  1. What does your dog enjoy in terms of games and toys? Some dogs are obsessed with balls; others prefer a Frisbee, squeaky or a chew toy. Some dogs simply enjoy running around and playing with other dogs. A dog walker should try to provide the preferred stimuli for each dog.
  1. Do you want me to exercise your dog off lead in safe places? A dog walker must never let a dog off lead without the owner’s consent. Personally, I prefer not to mix off and on lead dogs, as it can be frustrating for the restrained pooches.

  1. May I see the collar, harness, leash and anything else you want me to use when walking your dog? A dog walker should check the security of and make sure they know how to use all items. Harnesses and car restraints, for example, can be complicated affairs and must be fitted properly.
  1. What will be the routine when I drop your dog back home? A dog walker should routinely clean a dirty dog and make sure there is fresh drinking water available. Some owners may want the dog to be fed. Other dogs may be left with a chew or a Kong to relieve boredom. A dog may take comfort from a favourite toy or blanket. Some may have the run of the house and others will be restricted to certain areas. Many dogs like to hear the radio in the background. A dog walker is responsible for ensuring that your dog is left happy and your house is left as you would wish.

A dog walker would be wise to document of all of this information and should also ask if there is anything else that needs to be noted. If he or she does not ask the questions, you could volunteer the details; but perhaps you should, instead, be asking yourself if this is the right person to walk your dog?

Using CBD Oil: What Are The 5 Top And Best Things For Using CBD Oil For Dogs?

CBD oil is known as cannabidiol, which is founded in the leaves and stem of the cannabis plant. This CBD oil has been used from traditional times for healing chronicle diseases among humans as well as in animals. If you have listened about the hemp plant, then it will become easy for you to understand about CBD oil and products. It is hard to believe that not only humans but our pets can also suffer from depression and anxiety. CBD products are highly enriched with anti-oxidant properties and nutrients. CBD oil is also used for curing chronicle diseases like cancer and heart-related problems. If you want to gather some more information regarding the benefits and uses of CBD oil, then you can  find this. In this article, you will be going to read about the 5 top and best things for using CBD oil for dogs so that it will help in curing diseases. 

The 5 top and best things for using CBD oil for dogs:

  • CBD oil doesn’t contain THC, which is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. CBD oil is a compound which is beneficial for dog and helps in curing serious and chronicle issues. Using CBD oil helps in curing depression and anxiety. Dogs can also go through such problems, and it is helpful to cure these problems with the help of proper CBD oil. 
  • By using seizures, it becomes great to consume CBD oil for dogs. With the help of seizures, it will become beneficial for using CBD oil for dogs. It also helps in curing neuropathic pain so that your dog will get rid of CBD oil. 
  • It is a little bit complex to understand the pain and problems suffered by your dog. A little mishappening or any irrelevant situation can give a shock to your dog, which will create mental health issues. 
  • Using a CBD oil in the bare skin of your dog’s ear will deliver effective results as it will help in controlling severe pain as well as allergies. If you find out any change in your dogs’ behavior, then it will become helpful for controlling poor appetite, arthritis, cancer, and fatty tumors, as well as several other problems. 

  • CBD oil is also effective for curing inflammation, joint problems, mobility problems, glaucoma as well as digestive issues. There are several other problems too, which might become dangerous for our pets, such as phobias from fireworks and thunderstorm. It is complex to analyze these problems because a single incident or small issue can create a problem for your pet and dogs. It is better for you to analyze these problems so that you can visit a professional as soon as possible for you. 

In the upper section, all the 5 top and best things for using CBD oil for dogs are listed so that you can use it for your dogs and cure these chronicle diseases as soon as possible for you. May this listed information will become beneficial for you.

Dog Friendly Rv Parks In Cosby, Tennessee

Dog friendly RV Parks in Cosby, Tennessee, near the Great Smoky Mountains, is a list that only has two RV Parks on it. Even though there are only two RV Parks on this list, they are important to RVers who travel with their furry friends because it is better to know if the RV Park will welcome their furry family member or not than to pull in, get set up and then find out that the park really does not want your dog there. Very few RV Parks actually come out and say they do not want dogs on the property and the ones that do usually include that knowledge on their website, on a brochure or some other way and usually they will have some type of area of the park designated as a pet walk. The two RV Parks that do welcome dogs are Cosby Ranch and the Great Smoky Jellystone Camping Resort.

Cosby Ranch, located at 311 S. Highway 32, Cosby, Tennessee, is open year round and can offer the RVer a “peaceful, low traffic setting” with full hookups, partial hookups or a tent site with hookups. This dog friendly RV Park is “next to the Eastern Entrance of The Great Smoky Mountain National Park.” There is a gift shop, beer and propane for sale, a swimming pool a laundry room and restrooms with showers on the property. Guests can also enjoy basketball or horseshoes or they can go fishing in the small pond on the property. For more information, interested RVers can call 423-487-3178 or go to

Great Smoky Jellystone Camping Resort, located at 4946 Hooper Highway, Cosby, Tennessee, is only open from March through November. RVers who choose to stay at this Tennessee RV Park will find a designated area for walking their dog as well as full hookup RV sites with fire rings, picnic tables, wifi and cable television. On the property they will have access to clean restrooms with hot showers, a laundry facility, swimming pool, kiddie pool, miniature golf, Yogi’s theatre, a game room, a pavilion, a playground and more. For more information, interested RVers can call 423-487-5534 or they can go to For reservations, RVers can call 800-210-2119. If you visit this site, you will get more helpful information about the best RV parks for your pet. In addition, it also offers other tips and essential information on how to properly take good care of your pet.

These two RV Parks are not the only RV Parks in the Cosby, Tennessee area. There are more, but these are the only ones that openly welcomed pets. It is always best to call ahead and talk to someone at one of these RV Parks if you are interested in parking there. If you call ahead you can not only make reservations, but you can also discuss their pet policy so you can make a decision as to whether this RV Park would be a good place for you and your dog to stay.

Building a Townhome: Tips for the Wary Consumer

If you’re building a townhome, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of having everything your way. But there are advantages and disadvantages to building a townhome and things you should keep in mind when choosing designs.

Size Matters when Building a Townhome

When picking a design and building a townhome, realize that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to add any square footage onto the house after it’s built. Townhomes are usually part of Home Owners Associations who will deny permission for almost any structural additions onto your home. (Decks and patios are exceptions to this rule.) Therefore, when building a townhome, buy the biggest townhome you can afford. Every extension will be worth its weight in gold once you’ve moved into the house. It will also help with your townhome’s resale value when people come into the house expecting a small and narrow box and finding a spacious inside. Remember, paint, flooring, and fixtures can all be updated easily for little cost down the road, so make the wise investment upfront when building a townhome. Bigger is better.

Place Outlets Carefully when Building a Townhome

Furnishing a townhome is a unique challenge, because the rooms in such a home are often longer than they are wide. Also, interior townhomes only have windows at the front and back, so the utilization of that space must be planned in advance. You don’t want your one pretty picture-window wall having all the outlets on it, so that wires are showing. When building a townhome, figure out where you’re likely to place your furniture (even the furniture you don’t yet own!), and place outlets accordingly. Pay special attention to where you think you’ll put the television set and computers. They will need not only outlets, but cable jacks or DSL access.

Outlets are not quite easy to get in such circumstances because a townhome is quite different from a room or condo and requires much detailed paperwork to go through the measurements so it is better to hire someone like pa home builders for the job.

Bathrooms and Building a Townhome

Townhomes economize by taking advantage of vertical space. Most will have three floors. Some will even have four floors. When building a townhome, you should consider how you live your daily life, and whether or not it will really be practical for you to come in from shopping and run up the stairs to the second floor bathroom. If you can afford it, have a bathroom, or at least a powder room, on each floor of your townhome. If you can’t, try to ensure that there’s a powder room on the same floor as your kitchen or the main floor where you receive guests.

Elevation Concerns when Building a Townhome

Many townhomes don’t have garages. If you live in a place where it snows, this can be a major downside to owning a townhome. However, townhomes featuring garages can be troublesome in their own right. If you found hauling groceries up flights of stairs to your apartment to be obnoxious, imagine having to do it every day in your brand new townhome. If you live in a climate where you can stand living without a garage on your first level, do without. If you can’t, at least choose a townhome design where the kitchen and the living room are on the same level. Having to carry plates of food up and down a flight of stairs is not only inconvenient, but dangerous–for you and for your townhome carpets.

Building a townhome is an exciting step in home ownership and one you can enjoy if you keep these tips in mind!

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