Texas is one of the most popular and most exciting states in the nation. This place just so happens to be America’s second most populous state, and it hosts many of the nation’s most affluent cities such as Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, and Fort Worth. The Lone Star State consists of more than 260,000 square-miles, and it has some of the very best historical sites, national parks, amusement parks, train rides and science museums. Another great reason for coming to this destination is that there are a number of family-related activities that people can enjoy as a group. It’s time to pack your bags and take a trip to America’s last frontier.
Houston Museum of Natural Science
One of the absolute best things to see up close and personal is the Houston Museum of Natural Science. This extraordinary museum has been around since 1909 and over 2 million people visit this place every year. Science and education meets at this intersection as visitors will get a chance to view dinosaur exhibits, get a chance to see some of the rarest gemstones as well as see some of the best taxidermied animals. Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction.
San Antonio Riverwalk
The San Antonio Riverwalk is by far one of the most interesting and relaxing destinations on the planet. Located in Texas’ second most populous city, this destination provides up to 2.5 miles of walkway along the San Antonio River. Did you know that the Riverwalk is the most visited attraction in the state of Texas? Yes, this is 100 percent true as this place offers artisan shows, festivals and parades. This long channel of water was first designed to provide flood control for the city, but as of today, it is lined with affluent restaurants, lodging facilities, museums and shopping outlets. TripAdvisor.com states that over 76 percent of people who visited this area gave it an excellent rating of 4.5.
The Fort Worth Zoo
Who aren’t amazed at wild animals? The next great attraction is basically the Forth Worth Zoo. There are over 542 species of birds, reptiles and animals here. Kids will get a thrill while viewing silverback gorillas, lions, tigers and other majestic animals. The prestigious USA Travel Guide ranks Forth Worth Zoo as the 5th best zoo in the US. This huge wildlife refuge hosts a splash park, a carousel, a train ride and a theater.
Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort
This particular waterpark is a fan-favorite as it allows you to beat the heat with downhill racing slides, a water coaster, a lazy river ride and pools. SW&R is located in New Braunfels, and it has a variety of attractions for kids and adults. Swim-up pools and cabanas roundoff some of the more popular venues here.
There you have it! The great state of Texas has many activities to participate in, and it has much to see. All in all, visiting Texas should definitely be on your bucket list.
It’s Out!! Kinda like me!
And Here It is!
So Why Did I Do It?
But I Need Your Help
I am proud to have been able to address body shaming, invisibility and love beyond limits as part of the TEDxProvincetown program to audiences that extended beyond just gay men, including people of all types, ages, genders and orientations.
I want to spread the word spread. I am asking for your help in getting this talk out. Helping me share the message to all audiences. This talk is one of the first licensed TEDx talks that actually addresses body shaming, sex, inclusion, and visibility from a bigger-bodied gay man’s experience. Because of this, it has the potential opportunity to reinforce that desire and love can blossom no matter the body type. The more views the talk gets, the higher it ranks and the better the chances that it gets picked up for wider distribution. I’m asking that you include the link below in any announcement lists, email, newsletters or websites in an attempt to get the widest scope.
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You have worked so hard on sticking to a strict eating plan such as the paleo diet. However, it can prove challenging when you need to leave your house, especially when it is time to go to work. At the office, it can be even more tempting when your co-workers bring in special food to share that may not be on your meal plan. Here are some helpful tips for managing these temptations while staying on track with your progress.
Pack Your Meals The Night Before
It is more than likely that you will not have enough time to pack your approved meal when getting ready for work. Therefore, make sure you have all of your meals, snacks, and drinks packed the night before so that you can grab it as you run out the door. You are more likely to stick with your eating plan if you have your food on hand to eat at lunchtime.
Have The Right Essentials
Back in April, we posted about some ways to eat better specifically when on the road and I mentioned that the right food containers make all the difference. My love of the Lock and Lock line always makes for some great handy food options. But other essentials make sense. A new favorite is the Yeti brand Rambler. This 18-ounce container is a perfect fit for most briefcases and bags, keep temperatures perfect and with the extra accessories, like the Rambler Chug Cap you can both the option of an open mouth container and the removable smaller cover. Great for beverages, soups, stews etc.
If someone passes you a slice of cake at an office birthday celebration, you can help pass it along onto another willing candidate. Make sure to practice an answer such as, “Thank you, but I’m all set,” ahead of time so that you are not caught off guard. There is no need to mention your eating plan at this time. You can also give an extra congratulations to the special person that is being celebrated. Sometimes it also means the “fake out”, grab a small plate fork, a napkin and put some food on it.. then as you work your way around the party, you can dispose of it. But in peoples eyes, you will have “had something” and allows you to maneuver out of those more pushy folks.
Stack Emergency Snacks
Portion out some small amounts of your favorite meal plan food that are shelf stable that you can keep at your desk or car. These can be eaten when you are stuck late at the office and get hungry. The last thing that you do not want to do is raid the vending machine out of convenience. Wherever you store these treats, whether in a drawer or in your car, make sure that they are in a sealed container. The last thing that you want to do is to attract ants, bugs, or mice to your workspace. I do this a lot, it may mean spending a few dollars more on some prepackaged snacks – but they keep longer that way.
Keep Motivating Pictures At Your Workspace
Have a tangible reward in mind when you reach your goal weight. If you plan on going somewhere special, you can print out a picture and stick it in a spot on your desk where you can see it frequently. You have worked this hard to stay committed, and this is one assignment that you can see through to the end.
Office Picnic Challange – because I love coming home to an “oh by the way”
Picnic panic defense! With us, both being on vacation for two weeks and then Paul had to work in Baltimore right after it’s been a busy catch up with on my end. Paul then reminded me that it as his annual office picnic on Saturday too. So I managed to get into the kitchen and make some of my favorites to being with. Of course, Dino was hoping I would spend more time with him after his two weeks at Hightail Hotel, than my being in the kitchen while Paul was away – but he got plenty of snuggle time later.
First – the cookie!
Perfect for a picnic as it is for dinner is one of the favorites of his office is the variation to the Black Pepper Biscotti Ifrom Valerie Bertinelli. I have made this a bunch of times and its become a perfect goto not to mention is a great based to change it up from. In today’s version, I made one with chopped walnuts and almonds (because that’s what I have handy). I also used a bit of lemon extract in place of the peel that is mentioned in the previous post since I didn’t have any handy. But go easy on lemon extract, a little goes a long way. The second version is essentially the same but without nuts or almond extract. For this one, I amped up the vanilla, added some powdered ginger and a bit of homemade ginger syrup (see the recipe below). The third version was a Spicey Chocolate Biscotti with dried cherries. This was a made up recipe, so is in draft form but I liked the version enough to bring. I think next time it needs more cayenne (most likely 3/4 tablespoon in total). Once it gets done I will repost the final version recipe.
Second – the fruit salad
This was an easy one Summer + Picnic+ Fruit Salad. I have been making this cool watermelon chili, but on a recent episode of Sara Moulton I saw this new version that uses Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Feta Cheese, and Procuitto. I have made it now for several potlucks and news this one would be perfect. She adds paprika which gives it this sweet smokey flavor for a different twist. Sara’s version of Two-Melon, Proscuitto and Feta Salad is really good as is. Try it first then change it up for your needs. At times I have swapped in smoked ham slices and or pepperoni in place of the prosciutto. I change up the nuts from time to time.
For this weekend version, I kept it pretty much the same but swapped out 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 tablespoons of a local Habanero infused olive oil. You will notice that this shot has a lot of extra marinades. That is on purpose. I like to much that I save it and use it as a salad dressing base or as we did on vacation when I made it. Just add more melons.
As an extra – cold marinated cucumbers and carrots
This is one from my childhood I revamped. its quick and easy to make – tastes better the longer you let it chill. But equally as good with a 30-minute marinade. Unlike the Pickled Carrots and Jalapeños I did before, these require no heating. Just chop, pour, season and chill. This one I eyeball for measurements – eventually, I will try to measure it out. Slice up some 2-3 English cucumbers on an angle, toss in come carrot slices (or buy them already fancy sliced), add 1/2 cup of white vinegar, juice of 1/2 lemon, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, add chopped parsley or cilantro, 1/2 cup of sugar and 7 or 8 ice cubes (1/2 of chilled iced water works too if you are short on time). Mix well and leave in the refrigerator 30 min to overnight. Taste to flavors. You want a tart, sweet, herbed crunch. Most fresh herbs work. As does add sliced raw peppers (hot or sweet), radishes, even celery.
- Several large pieces of ginger, peeled and rinsed and sliced, approximately 4-6 inched or about a cup sliced.
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
In a saucepan – cook the ginger, water, and sugar first to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the heat to cool 5-10 min. Once cool, strain out the cooked ginger into a clear glass jar. add a few uncooked peeled pieces of ginger and refrigerate.
Note: If you want some extra zing, add cinnamon sticks or rosemary to the simmer and strain out.
Supplement all that good food and excercise
As many fitness enthusiasts know, you can work out incredibly hard, eat healthily, and do everything right, but still see room for improvement. This is where supplements come in. Supplements are a way to overcome a body’s natural deficiencies in areas such as amino acids, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, or some other vital nutrient. For those of us who like to work out and stay in shape, supplements are a way to help us attain our performance goals and to achieve the look we want.
The problem, though, is there are so many supplements on the market, how does one go about finding the right supplement? The following is a short list of tips to help you navigate the complex world of supplements and help you find the right supplement for you.
Check Out The Company
It only seems natural to check out the company who is trying to sell you the supplements before you do anything else. Do they have a website? See if they share results of their research. There’s something a bit suspicious about a company asking you to put something in your body that isn’t willing to show you the research they’ve done to prove it is both safe and effective. Check out their reviews on third-party sites. Also, make sure if you are purchasing them from an online reseller that they are authentic.
Look For Certification
Check on the bottle to ensure that the product has been certified by a third party organization such as USP (United States Pharmacopeia) or NSF (National Sanitation Foundation). Certification will assure potency, purity, strength, and how well the product will dissolve in your body.
Check The Price
Sometimes the cheapest product isn’t always the best. Quality products, not to mention certification from one of the above organizations, costs money. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many manufacturers sometimes opt for lower quality ingredients, or even skip certification, in their attempt to save money.
Check Out the Ingredients
By reading the label, you can see exactly what ingredients are included in the product. The quality of raw materials is essential to the ability of the body to absorb and process them. If your body can’t absorb the supplement, then the supplement is doing you no good.
Check The Daily Values
First of all, it is essential to know that Daily Values are not the same as the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of a nutrient. The RDA is based upon your individual factors such as age or gender. The Daily Value will be listed as a percentage. You want to get a supplement that contains about 100% of the Daily Value, not a very large amount like 4000%. In some cases, a nutrient can actually be toxic at this dose and should be avoided. In this case, more of a good thing is, in fact, a bad thing.
Review the Other Ingredients
There shouldn’t be more than five ingredients in any given supplement. This is unnecessary and can hinder the absorption and processing of the supplement in your body. This is especially true of things like added sugars or artificial flavors and colors. Dyes should also be avoided. Likewise, look on the label to see if there are any allergens in the supplement. Many people are allergic to peanuts, wheat, or seafood. A supplement should mention what allergens it does not contain on the label.
Supplements are not prescription medications. There is no such thing as a “pharmacy strength” supplement. Supplements that contain such claims on the label might actually be perfectly good supplements. They also might be charging a premium for a claim that, quite frankly, is not true.
Look At the Expiration Date
Vitamin and minerals lose potency over time. Taking expired supplements can often be completely ineffective and expensive. You should also store your supplements in a cool, dry place. The medicine cabinet and refrigerator are bad places to store supplements as they can develop moisture which will, in turn, decrease the effectiveness of the supplement.
Check With Your Doctor
Finally, always check with your doctor about any supplements you are taking or planning to take. We all have our own specific medical histories, and not all supplements are right for everyone. In addition, supplements which may be perfectly harmless on their own can sometimes interact with a medication to produce unpleasant, even dangerous, side effects.
If you are already a fitness buff, you are probably already in the habit of reading the labels on your food. If you are planning to start – or if you already take – a supplement, it is essential to apply the same principals. Read your labels. Know who is making the supplement, know that a third party is overseeing its production, and make sure the quality of raw materials is up to the standard you apply to the food you eat.
5 Things to Look for in Buying Supplements | University Hospitals
The Top 4 Things to Look for When Buying Nutritional Supplements | Sanesco
8 Questions To Ask When Finding The Best Supplement Manufacturer | Biovation Labs
Vitamins and Supplements: What to Look For, What to Run From | Everyday Health
Read, read, read. Seems like I always have something to read or listen to with me.
From the classic paper-based books I still buy, collect and read, to the digital versions on various e-readers that travel so well.
But even with an Amazon Amazon Unlimited (What is Kindle Unlimited? Kindle Unlimited is a service that allows you to read up to 10 books at once for one low fee of $9.99 a month and you can cancel anytime. They offer a “Try it free for 30 days.”) and an account with Scribd which offers a similar plan (but with an $8.99 per month for unlimited reads of from what they have in inventory), and has a great blog at https://literally.scribd.com/ buying books add up.
So I started to give a few of the newsletter membership based book lists a try. The two that I seem to find the most offered from; one is BookBub. with a simple sign up, you get emails every day with reduced and free reads for most of the available e-readers. Members also have access to the BookBub blog which I check out on a regular basis.
The other list I get daily is from The Fussy Librarian which is also based on interest, and provides me with several suggestions that link right into the e-reader of my choice. You can also find out more details on its website thefussylibrarian.com .
Prepping for my vacation read
As I get ready for the annual vacation I always go back and review lasts years post to make sure I am packing the right tools for the trip and multiple e-readers make sense. When out on the bike, I tend to want my smaller Kindle Oasis with its small format and expanded battery. Poolside or on the bear I tend to use it as well. The rest of the time, I use my trusty Ipad Pro 9.7″ which does the job perfectly. Truth be told I also keep an older Ipad mini at my bedside too!
My 2018 Delemia; Read or listen
I have never been a big fan of audiobooks. I find that they end up putting me to sleep (even when driving – so not a good combination for me) but earlier this year I fell back into podcasts with a few new genres that really caught my fancy. Since I tend to be Apple product based. I use its native app for podcast listening but also recently downloaded Stitcher as an app alternative.
Note: Make sure you check your device features and settings – and know when you are streaming and downloading versus already have downloaded it via wifi or you will hit some pretty big data jumps as you get engrossed.
Prepping for vacation meant a search for more creative, provocative, compelling and thought-provoking listens. My tastes range widely which is definitely is reflected in my playlist and why am always on the listen for new ones.
Some local things to do in San Francisco
The United States is filled with great cities to visit during your travels, but few of them can top the majestic beauty of San Francisco. Whether you are there for the weekend or much longer, you will always find something fun to do in the city. These are the five things you must not miss during your time in San Francisco.
The iconic prison that held Al Capone is located on a small island just 1.25 miles off the coast of San Francisco. The excellent audio tour provides a detailed history of the prison as you walk around at your own pace. You will also get to experience some of the best views of the city while taking the ferry to the island. Note: It is important to plan ahead for this one as tickets sell out fast. Visit here for information on tickets and further details
Fisherman’s Wharf is a small neighborhood located near the water that is filled with enough attractions to fill the entire day. There is no better place to enjoy a fresh seafood meal than Fisherman’s Wharf. Watching the sea lions on the pier, visiting the shops and enjoying the beautiful environment are a few of the other popular activities in the area. One of the best parts of this visit – is its easy to get to using our SFMTA trolly or bus systems. Visit the SFMTA for details on tickets, maps and more
If you are visiting San Francisco in the summer, then there is no better way to spend your time than watching the Giants play at AT&T Park. The picturesque stadium was originally constructed in 2000, and it is widely regarded as one of the best spots to watch a baseball game because of its views of the San Francisco Bay.
San Francisco is the home to a lot of award-winning museums, but none of them can surpass the Asian Art Museum. This wonderful museum has more than 2,500 pieces of art on display at all times. Some of the pieces date back more than 6,000 years. In addition to the permanent collection, the museum regularly hosts special exhibits that display rare pieces that are rarely seen out of Asia.
Golden Gate Bridge
This orange suspension bridge dates back to 1933, and it is easily one of the most famous landmarks in the world. Riding a bike across the mile-long bridge is one of the best ways to fully appreciate this architectural marvel. Fog regularly obstructs the view of the bridge, so plan your visit accordingly.
These five attractions are just a small reason why San Francisco is considered one of the best cities in the world. Visiting these iconic spots will ensure your trip is a success, but be prepared never to want to leave. You might also want to visit my post on places to eat which I try to update every few months.
As many of you know, I have a wide range of interests in life and the latest is Podcasts
From my exploits in the kitchen, travel, teaching, and the infamous bookclub adventures. For several months, I have been spending more time walking Dino while Paul was laid up and decided to get on the Podcasts bandwagon. I had done some podcast work during my time in DC in 2016 while on detail to one of the federal agencies who needed some communications support. So was more accustomed to listening to work or political themes shows. But they don’t keep my after-hours attention for long. I needed something that hit close to my own style of storytelling.
So what podcasts am I listening too?
Several podcasts have captured my attention of late. My first opportunity came up because I wanted to catch up with the lovely Dixie and her Bawdy Storytelling series that also has its podcasts and Youtube page. (I recently had the honor to tell one of the stories hosted in San Francisco and truly enjoyed all the work that goes into her shows.)
From time to time we all find innovative and interesting work being done in the arts that need some support. We don’t live in a world where all art forms and content gets access to funds to keep them vibrant. Especially those that are related to the promotion and activism of healthy sexual expression. If you want to help invest some of your monies into keeping sex and art vibrant. Here is another way! Dixie De La Tour‘s Bawdy Storytelling has it’s own Patreon account. For the cost of a few cups of coffee each month – you can help keep storytelling accessible for those who can’t get to a live show!
Patreon is a great way to support the podcasts that you love!
Then a pal from Atlanta turned me on to true crime podcasts and one in particular, Up and Vanished; a true crime “pod-u-mentary” series set around the cold case of Tara Grinstead from Atlanta. Here is a peek at episode one: Listen
Well, that set the hook in deeper. After finishing it, I was hungry for more podcasts that inspired me to imagine, think, and do more than be just “lectured” at which some of the more news-based shows tended to be. So was searching around for suggestions on some of my other favorite themes such as Horror stories, paranormal, sex, the unexplained and of course one of my old time favorites; The Winchester Mystery House.
One of the suggestions was Hillbilly Horror Stories.
OMG! – after two episodes I was hooked on a new genre of podcasts.
Hillbilly Horror Stories is hosted by comedian Jerry Pauley and his own bright star of a wife, Tracy. Together they bring the perfect balance of sarcasm, intrigue, storytelling and no-nonsense “you are shitting me” humor that I so appreciate myself. Because I can be a bit “linear” I had to start with episode 1, and they have been keeping me company now several times a day since.
I have finally hit the newer 2018 episodes and can see how they really take pride in making content and technical changes based on feedback from viewers and reviews but still stay true to what the vision of the show is. On more than one occasion I have been caught laughing or getting that “chill” at the back of my neck, as I listen with wireless earbuds on- looking like quite the fool myself.
Now don’t get me wrong – the Hillbilly Horror Stories show doesn’t use humor to poke fun at the paranormal. Instead, they use it to give new life to often told stories that many of us had heard before and entice you to look up more on those you never heard before. Do they get it right all the time? Nope. But seems to me, they will be the first one to tell you that and then get an expert on the show to be guest!
Hillbilly Horror Stories can be found on most of the common venues for podcasts, has a great website (and store for those of you fans that like your swag) with older episodes listed as well as a Facebook Group page and Youtube page and can even be found on twitter under Jerry’s @TheRentDaddy profile. Like many other podcasts – they also use a Patreon account as a way to keep fans supporting it and offer lots of great extras to those folks.
Eating healthy on a budget is not as difficult as you may think. There are many health-conscious options that provide all the fiber and nutrients your family needs while sticking to a budget. The dietary items that are a part of the five main food groups are all budget friendly, including dairy, grains, protein, fruits, and vegetables. Here are a few ideas on how to shop smart and healthy.
Canned vegetables are manufactured in healthy, safe conditions. Buying canned vegetables in bulk is a budgeted solution that is a great item for the family. Additionally, leafy vegetables often go on sale. You can blanch leafy veggies like kale, spinach, greens, etc., then package them in a freezer bag and store them until you cook them. Frozen vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, etc. are a great source for healthy eating as well. Also, fresh veggies are seasonal, and certain varieties, like corn, can be purchased at bargain prices during the summer. Want to make it even more of a social event for yourself? Check out the local farmer’s markets and when they happen and make an afternoon of it.
Yes, you can eat meat and be healthy. It’s about how much meat you eat. When cooking lean beef, pork, and poultry, a single serving of these proteins should typically come in at 3 ounces per person. It’s common for American restaurants to serve up extremely large portions of meat. When in reality, we only need to consume a fraction of that amount protein to eat a balanced meal. As a general rule, 3-ounces of meat should take up the same amount of space on your plate as a deck of playing cards.
By portioning out your meals and planning accordingly, adding meat to your diet can be both healthy and affordable. A tip to keep in mind is to shop for sale items and to buy inexpensive cuts of meat and work them into different meals throughout the week. Burritos, casseroles, soups, and stews are all great options for using inexpensive cuts of meat like skirt steak, chuck roast, and chicken thighs. Beyond portioning out your meals, shop smarter by eating local, free-range, and certified organic meat when possible. Like produce, you can also shop for meat when it’s in season and pay attention to sales.
Lentils, beans, peas, and soybeans, are quality protein products, and they carry a long shelf life. Bags of protein are an inexpensive meal that can be turned into soups, stews, and casseroles, which can also be made and frozen for future meals.
These types of proteins are perfect for balancing a busy schedule and meal times when you partner them with slow cookers and insta-pots!
Hint: before you hit those bulk bins, find out how old the beans are. Sometimes the ones that are bagged may yield a better bean. Don’t put your nose up at canned beans either. More often than not you can open a can or two and add them to a dish last minute without the long slow simmer that dried ones need.
While you are out shopping, pick up grains like cereal, rice, oatmeal, pasta, and brown rice. Whole grain and refined grain products also carry a long shelf life. When possible, buy these grain products in bulk to save money. Then, keep bags of trail mix, nuts, dried fruit, and whole grain snacks to munch on. Buy large inexpensive bags and break them down into individual bags for everyone to take to school or work. Combining grains and fruit is another great way to layer flavor too! You know one of my favorites remains those protein-rich “eat on the go” blueberry oatcakes that I have shared before.
Watermelon and melons are least expensive during summertime and fruits like apples or pears are priced low in the fall. You can also get good deals for fresh fruits at local neighborhood farm stands and outdoor market areas. Don’t be afraid to experiment with them. Taking watermelons and paring it with savory and spices changes enhances its sweetness. One of my favorite ways to use it is as a Watermelon Chili; served cool, with ginger and garlic, the thickened and savory chili is meat-free and allows each eater to custom top it themselves. Canned fruits and frozen fruits contain healthy nutrients that you and the household need. Canned and frozen fruits are available in price specials that are budget conscious, so keep your eye out for promotional deals. Many of them are great to add to doughs for a quick fruit enriched bread.
Dairy items can be a health food challenge to keep fresh, but it can be accomplished. Butter, powdered milk, and cans of condensed or evaporated milk have a closet and refrigerated shelf life that is good for a couple of weeks, so those are good options to stock up on.
Yogurt and cheese products provide the body with calcium, potassium, protein, vitamins (A, D, B12), niacin, riboflavin and phosphorous. With growing children, dentists recommend dairy for growing bones and teeth— especially for fighting tooth decay.
Unhealthy meal items fail to provide the nutrients that the human body needs and they tend to be expensive. Nutritious meal options can be prepared quickly, easily, and with the healthiest foods for your family and your budget.
Now that you know how to shop smarter, explore our recipe index so you can start cooking.