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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Coffee and Comfort Zones

I can sometimes be such as ass. And it's always to my own detriment.

Ever since I first heard about the Keto craze and all the other low-carb diets, I have wished to be able to drink black coffee. I'm not kidding when I say that my daily saturation of sweetened coffee is where most of my unnecessary calories come from. Coffee is a necessity, yes, but all the sugar in my flavored creamers is pure indulgence. Not only do those creamers turn a simple cup of coffee into a dessert but they are starting to take a chunk out of my grocery budget.

The look, the feel - all hits a little close to home!

I love, love, love my coffee. And not just any coffee. For the past couple of years, I've grown more attached to coffee enhanced with chicory. Coffee can be good for you. Chicory can be good for you. There is nothing good for your body (outside of your tastebuds) about heavily sweetened coffee creamers. However, I have always had a hard time drinking plain, black, unsweetened coffee. I've never even liked coffee with sugar if it was also without cream.  For a while, when doing Keto and OMAD, I tried to convince myself that I could do the black coffee thing but... Ugh. I think that McDonald's had the only coffee that I could gag down - if I absolutely had to - without the sugary creamers. But now...

Okay, this is where I explain how I can be such an obstinate ass. I get set in my ways and think that I must never change. Never, ever. Because I am always right. Always. Until I am wrong.

A while back, I heard of Luzianne coffee with chicory. At the time, I couldn't find it for an affordable price. Then the other week, I finally ran across some in Amazon's Prime Pantry. It was so affordable that I got 2 bags just in case the price was a fluke.



Now all the Amazon customer reviews for the coffee just ranted and raved about how delicious it was. Other customers swore by it because they claimed that it was better than any other coffee, that it was their preferred brand, and that it was so strong without being bitter, and blah blah blah. I fell for the hype and was thrilled to place the order. I just about assaulted the UPS driver when he made the delivery.

The last time I was so excited to make coffee was after not being able to drink any for a 36-hour fast (and refused to have the allowed had black coffee). I brewed up the first pot like a junkie setting up a fix. I could tell right away that the Luzianne wasn't going to be as strong as Cafe Du Monde or French Market brands (which are both the same, I'm sure) and I got a little worried.

Of course, I added my sweetened creamer and... Nope. I was not impressed at all. In my opinion, the brew was much too weak. It looked like a very weak cup of tea. With the other brands, adding creamer gives a nice mellowed out cocoa-frost kind of shade. With the Luzianne, the tiniest bit of cream turned the coffee the shade of Almond milk. Just whited out all the color and all the flavor. Nasty, nasty.

I tried making a slightly stronger brew, and then a third even stronger brew. The color deepened a little but the creamer still killed all the coffee flavor. I burned through over 5 scoops (about a tablespoon and a half each) of ground coffee before I gave up. I tossed the bag of Luzianne in the fridge and made myself a cup of reliable Cafe Du Monde.


Once I got my usual java fix, I wrote a 3-star review on Amazon for the Luzianne coffee. I  complained about how weak the coffee was. I didn't say (though I may have implied it) that the other reviewers were wimps who had no idea what "strong" coffee is. And I made up my mind to give the coffee to my sister-in-law. She's kind of a coffee wimp.

Before I could give the coffee away, a neighbor stopped by for a chat. She, too, is a coffee wimp. I made her a cup of the Luzianne and continued drinking my mug of the good stuff. As soon as my neighbor sipped her coffee she was kind of wowed and asked me what kind it was. (She's had some of my nuclear brew before and I've had to water it down for her since.) I told her that I didn't like the Luzianne because it wasn't strong enough and she said that it probably was meant to be drunk black. I ended up giving her the rest of the opened bag since she liked it so much.

I couldn't quit thinking about what my neighbor said about drinking the Luzianne black. That was the one thing I had not tried when I was doing my taste test. So I brewed up a cup.

Listen. This coffee is goooood. It's so good that cream and sugar only ruin it. I think I like this coffee plain more than I like my other coffee with the creamer. No, that's a lie, but I do like it almost as much as the calorific coffee. By the way, I did go back and amend my Amazon review (so I'm not a total ass).

Drinking Luzianne coffee black makes me appreciate why some people only drink their coffee black. This coffee is kind of amazing. For the first time in my life, I on purpose made and drank black coffee all day. It's been two days now and I have only had my dessert coffee once.

I am excited about this. When I was doing Keto and OMAD (and trying to go 16 and 18 hours between meals), coffee was the thing that tripped me up every time. The rule was that you could have all the black coffee you wanted in between meals.  All the BLACK COFFEE. I would make it up to almost 15 hours before I got cranky and needed my java fix so I'd cheat. Now that I'm trying to cut back on sugars by using the miracle berry, I've been doing well with everything except my coffee - because coffee with lemon is just nasty.

I love the idea of getting the health benefits (and caffeine kick) from coffee without all those calories. On a normal day, I usually make a 16-ounce mug of coffee and add at least 5 tablespoons of the sweet creamer. That's over 170 of the most useless calories in my world. Crazy delicious but also just crazy.

Just imagine if all the coffee I drink in a day is good for me, right? Understand that I can go through two of my big mugs in a day. If I don't feel well, I can do three. My mug keeps the coffee hot for so long that those two helpings get me from early in the morning until late at night.

One thing I have to mention though about coffee with chicory: do not forget the laxative effect. For some reason, when I drink the Luzianne coffee black, the laxative properties are way stronger than when I drink my other coffee with the cream. I know that the chicory has an "emptying" effect but I've never experienced it with the other brands so I assume this has to do with the sugary additives I was using. I'm just guessing but... I have warned you so be careful.

Peace
--Free





Because it's a blast from somebody's past
& it mentions coffee




Tuesday, August 13, 2019

**REVIEW** Boulders Miracle Berry Powder

A bit of brand confusion

The first thing you should know is that although this miracle berry powder is labeled "Boulder", the mailing package was marked as being sent from Sweat Freaks.


Sweet Freaks, Boulder, Zobo Red...
Identity crisis


I think that Sweet Freaks is the actual name of the brand/seller. It's all a little confusing because this powder (labeled as being from New Zealand) and brand seem to be associated with the Zobo Red brand powder (labeled as being "grown in the USA". Also, the ebook Sweet Freaks: drinks edition (miracle berry recipe book) promotes products from Sweet Freaks, Boulder, and Zobo Red in addition to the Flavornaut brand. I'll be referring to this item as being from Boulders (though the ordering info shows it as being sold by Zobo Red).  This is what I received in the mail:



Since I've had mixed results with other brands of miracle berry products - freeze-dried berries and tablets - I decided to start with zero expectations this time. Right off, I was pretty underwhelmed by the package size of this product. It was so thin that I wondered if I was getting some kind of letter instead of the actual powder.




More product confusion

I went back to check the product info on Amazon for the size and servings amount. There was some confusion there also. This is what is shown on the Amazon product page:


This is what is on the back of the actual package:


In the Questions section at the bottom of the product page, this is how another customer responded to the query about the serving size:


This is what I saw when I looked inside the package. 


It's kind of hard to tell, but while there is not a lot of product, there is more than what this photo shows. I didn't want to mess around trying to get a better photo and end up spilling any of the powder. The texture is not as fine as talcum powder and reminds me of very finely ground cornmeal. The taste of a small amount on my tongue has a slight sweetness to it. It's pleasant and sweeter than the dissolving tablet I've tried. There is a small amount added "to stabilize" the powder but I have no idea what arrowroot tastes like so...

Mberry effect on coffee (in general/any brand)

One thing I discovered from my previous use of miracle berry is that while it did nothing to sweeten the taste of my coffee, it did have an effect on the taste of it. At the time, I was drinking my coffee with lots of sweetened creamers. The miracle berry flattened the taste so much that it made the coffee unpleasant, in my opinion. Now that I am drinking my coffee black (whole other story there), I was concerned that the berry effects would ruin that too. Just in case, I held off trying out the berry until much later in the day when I would be finished with my final cup of coffee.  It had zero effect on the black coffee. At least now I know that I can use the berry at any point during the day and still have my coffee (as long as the coffee is black and unsweetened).

Taste tests (of products to date)

For comparison, of all the miracle berry products I've used so far the best one and my absolute favorite: 1 Richberry's freeze-dried halves. 2) Still effective but much less so were the freeze-dried berries from Snozzberry Farm. I initially thought the berries were fresh because they were kind of sticky to the touch but now I think they felt like that from being old and stale. They also shorted my order of berries by quite a lot. 3) The least effective product were the tablets from MiraBerry (currently not available). I will be doing a post showing how all the products compared in taste-testing  But basically, the Boulder powder was, at best, only mildly effective.
  • Greek yogurt (non-fat, plain) tasted like... Greek yogurt, non-fat and plain. The powder took softened the sour notes just by the tiniest bit. I doubled up on the powder and, while the yogurt was not as sour, it still was not something I wanted to eat without adding fruit or sweetener.
  • Greek yogurt (w/lemon juice) tasted a little better but I don't know if that was from the powder or just the added lemon.
  • Goat cheese (plain) this seemed to taste worse with the powder. There was no sweetening or softening of the sharp flavor.
  • Goat cheese (w/lemon) had no change in flavor
  • Lemon water & ACV water had no sweetening change in taste at all. The ACV had a different taste but I can't put my finger on what it was. It was still too strong to sip though.
I started out using about .5 grams of the powder for the above results. When I doubled up the dose to try the plain yogurt and goat cheese, there was no improvement. There's not enough powder in the package to double or triple doses anyway. It would be too expensive even if it worked.

Used 6 of these  little dessert spoons to get the
3 grams (0.1oz)

0.5 grams per spoonful
Remember the serving size listed on the back of the package? There was no way I was going to get 25 servings from the bag I received. I was running out just getting the tastes tests done. If I had liked this powder, I wouldn't want to $13 per bag that would not last even a few days. That would be like having a drug habit, wouldn't it? I mean, I don't know what people pay for drugs, but if it was $13 a bag, I'd be out of luck.

Bottom line

In my opinion, I don't think this powder is worth it. I went back and read reviews written and questions asked and answered by customers. There were only 16 reviews currently and 2 of those (including my own) are negative. The rest are really positive. I have to think the reason is that not everyone does well with certain forms of miracle berry. I hope those glowing reviews are not the result of cheating the system (either by getting free products or being otherwise compensated to say positive things).

Personally, I get a much better effect from the berries. Even the worst berries delivered some results for me. Tablets would be my second choice. I  haven't yet reviewed one of the tablets I've tried.The company is tweaking their product and I will review it when they have the new items up for sale. I have to admit that the tablet  gave a nice effect. It just was not as strong  and it wasn't long-lasting at all, wearing off after only 15 minutes or so and I told the seller who gave me a sample box. The company is tweaking the product and I will review it when they have the new items up for sale.

Along with Snozzerberry Farm brand, I just cannot give a good review to Boulders. Because I based my grovery budget and eating plan around the berries, I used the refund from Snozzberry to go back and purchase more of the Richberry product. I will stick with them until something better-priced or more effective comes around.

Peace
--Free

P.S.: Sorry for any typos/errors. It's been a rough couple of days and I wrote this post over a 2-period.

Monday, August 12, 2019

About the Gua Sha Board

(This is for those vendors who have been sending me their products unsolicited: I will NOT review your items on Amazon because of that site's most recent review policies. However, because some of you are so persistent, I will post reviews of your product(s) here on the blog. That said, this post is a review of one another of those products.)

If you are like me, this is the first you are hearing of a Gua Sha Board. To be honest, I don't even know how to pronounce Gua Sha. And it's not that I'm dumb. Even Google was like, Huh?



Well then.

This is what I have pieced together from some more Googling:

Okay, now I am about to tick off some people, but hear me out.

I am woman and love all things to do with beauty. I think that Asian women are some of the most beautiful in the world. Recently, I have explored some Asian beauty products because I love to explore new things. However, from what I have read of Gua Sha, it's in the same league that I put Yoga. Let me explain.

There are some practices - for health, wellness, and medical - that stem from a culture's religion. For instance, I don't practice yoga because I don't want to deal with the spiritual aspects behind it. Yoga is not something that the original practitioners took as lightly as we might in the Western world. I truly believe that there is a spiritual force behind the practice of yoga. As a Christian, I don't want any spiritual force in my life other than the one given by my Lord. I think that Gua Sha might have its own spiritual forces and beliefs infused in the practice.

Controversial, yes, but I have to stick to my own beliefs.

That said, I can't promote this item because I won't be using it. I did want to publish this post so that others can get some background on the tool. Probably, as when I spoke about my views on yoga,  there will be folks bad-mouthing me. That's okay. We are all allowed our opinions.

Peace
--Free


Saturday, August 10, 2019

**REVIEW** Bug Zapper

(This is for those vendors who have been sending me their products unsolicited: I will NOT review your items on Amazon because of that site's most recent review policies. However, because some of you are so persistent, I will post reviews of your product(s) here on the blog. That said, this post is a review of one of those products.)

Oddly enough. this was one of the first unsolicited products I received and I had trouble figuring out what company/seller it came from. I figured out that it's from Yunlights and is this particular model, which can also be found on Amazon.



I kind of hate to say it (because I felt the seller was pushy) but this little thing works alright. The first day that I used it, nothing happened for a few hours. That kind of surprised me. I have a lot of indoor plants. Also, I keep my windows open quite a bit and the front of our building is lined with all kinds of plants and bushes. Iowa has houseflies so bold that they organize baseball games and picnics. Those buggers are daring and fearless. In addition to the flies, there are all kinds of smaller winged insects here. In Alaska, we pretty much only worried about the mosquitos (mosquitos bigger than drones but...) and gnats.


Maybe the light is supposed to attract them?


After about four hours, I wondered if the zapper was just very silently killing things. And wouldn't that be a little creepy? I checked the little insect tray and, nope, nothing. I was ready to give up on the thing. As a matter of fact, since I had it in the living room and I was in the bedroom, I forgot that I even had it plugged in. Then, sometime that evening, I damn near had a heart attack. 

Here's the thing: this zapper, when it works, the damn thing goes off like a tiny gunshot. The only reason I figured out where the sound came from is I called my brother. I wanted to let him know that I was hearing sounds I couldn't explain. He knew that I had gotten the zapper and told me that's what made the sound.

What?

My brother was right. That night I moved the zapper into the bedroom to keep an eye on it. I set the zapper up right next to me on the night table. I was listening to a podcast when

 POP!

 I just about wet myself. And then, just when my heart quit banging away like a cartoon character, another of those gunshots went off. Yep, it really was the zapper doing its job.

Hmm... did it catch any???

Yep. This is a closeup.
I think I even see a bunch of little... insect legs?

So, yes, this zapper works. Kind of. It seems to attract certain flying insects - mostly those irritating window gnats - but I think the flies are too smart. 

On the positive side:
  • The zapper does work (for some of the smaller and stupider insects). 
  • There is a metal link so that you can hang the zapper up somewhere
  • It's small enough not to detract from the indoor decor
  • It comes with a little brush to clean out the bug tray
  • It's totally silent while plugged in

Here are the negatives:
  • There's no on/off switch. It's tedious to have to plug and unplug.
  • The cord would not be long enough for me to hang this anywhere and reach an outlet.
  • The price seems, in my opinion, to be just a smidge too high.
  • Either I don't have as many plant pests as I thought or this thing only attracts the most minute one.
Honestly, if this thing didn't trigger my instinct to dive for cover every time it worked, I would give it a solid 4 stars. 

Peace
--Free



Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Something About Being Connected

I have this weird feeling all the time of being slightly disconnected from the rest of the world. Probably because I don't have children. I don't know, but recently I've been digging into the family roots. I've talked about this before and about how tough it can be to track your genealogy when you keep running into a slavery wall. Thankfully,  I have some older relatives who can fill me in on certain things.

I just got copies of some old obits in the mail from a dear aunt. Just seeing the names and information about people who belong to me (or I to them) moved me to tears.


I turned 7 the year she died

For many, many years I've had this memory that I wasn't sure was real. I was telling my aunt that I very clearly remember meeting these two old ladies and had always wondered if one was my great granny. She said that I would have been no more than 7 when Granny Rosie died. I have no idea why this memory remains so vivid, but when I described it to my aunt, she confirmed every detail.

During one of our family visits back to Arkansas, my father, mother, and I (not sure if any of my siblings were with us), drove out to "the country". We went to this really small house that was set back against some woods. These two old ladies were out front like they had been expecting us and they were excited and happy to see us. We stood in the front yard for a while, while they hugged and kissed my parents and inspected me. Both ladies were small and dark like me. They wore neat and pretty dresses that reminded me of Sunday's best. One of them wore really red lipstick. The other lady was a deaf-mute and she had a beautiful smile. The house was cute - very plain but neat. There were flowers running along the front. There was a well out front on one side and on the other side in the back, there was an outhouse. My mother was looking forward to drinking some of the well water because I guess she'd had it before and knew it to be really cold and delicious.

My aunt was kind of amazed that I had described my great-grandmother Rosie and her sister-in-law Irma. Irma was the deaf-mute with the lovely smile. My grandmother was wearing the lipstick. They had lived together ever and took care of each other since they'd been widowed. I had all the details right about the house.

I feel better now. Seeing the obits of my great gran and my grandfather reminds me that I'm not supposed to get too attached to this world. This is a tempory home and I don't want to get comfortable. A hundred years from now, someone might be looking at my faded obituary. I hope that they will realize that we are all just someone's memories.

Okay, now that I'm finished being morose and maudlin, I'm going to go look up some more ancestry info. Our family tree is deep-rooted, top-heavy, and very twisty. This is going to take some digging.

Peace
--Free




I just picked this song because I like the way it makes me feel



Sunday, August 04, 2019

Fresh Air

Warning:  I am in one of my moods.
This one is not too dark, but, like a bruise, it's deep and turning blue.

My best friend and I have both been in the same kind of funk for a while. I wonder if moods are telekinetic over long distances? Maybe we just catch each other's moods because we are soul-sisters. I don't know but she can have this mood back, thank you very much.

I'm not depressed. I almost wish that I was. Depression I can understand. We are friends and drinking buddies, me and Depression. But this mood is one that I can't really define. I'm not sad, but I just feel out of sync with life right now. Like I am a record needle stuck in the wrong groove or something.

What I think I need - what I would love right now is to go somewhere different for a while. I want to be whisked away to breath different air; to wake up hearing noises of another land. I want to go for a walk surrounded by the sounds of people speaking a foreign and romantic language. I want to eat some Mediterranean food - or drink Turkish coffee or eat French pastries or main dishes that I can't pronounce the name of. I want to converse with someone in a language I don't speak so that I have to understand and trust their heart and not their words. I want to sit in a cottage that is surrounded by pleasantly damp weather and newly budding flowers. I want to see miles of deep green fields covered by a brilliantly blue sky. I want to go back in time to visit my great grandmother and sit with her on her porch and drink water from the well in her front yard.

I want to sit up late talking with friends newly and suddenly made. I want us to drink not too much wine and laugh long and hard but not too loud. I want to go to sleep in the open air - maybe on a patio with the stars really bright in the night - and wake up to talk with God in a morning that feels holy.

I think that I just need to feel different air on my skin and taste life from the other side of the plate.

For now, I am going to try to figure out what this mood is and how to deal with it. I won't be going anywhere fast for a while. My passport is outdated and dusty and stored away somewhere in a drawer. I don't like to fly and I'm sometimes afraid that, if I leave this country, I might not want to come back. This is a time for a need of new air, I guess. In the meantime, I am here, just trying hard to appreciate how blessed I am to breathe the air I live in.

Told you. Strange mood.

Peace
--Free







This has been a favorite ever since I saw the movie "Crash"


Saturday, August 03, 2019

Big and Beautiful Moments

One of my nieces got married this past week. I stream-shared the service with our extended family by recording a Facebook Live video. The one thing I can love about Facebook is that it was a way for our family spread all over the world to witness the service.

A wedding ceremony is such a beautiful event. And I'm not talking about the clothes or flowers or all the other ornate things. It's just such a big moment with big consequences that I always feel like life is suspended for that little while. A wedding is, just by itself, such a holy and sanctified event that, as a guest, I always feel like I'm sitting in the presence of angels.

Actually, I love all kinds of ceremonies for deep and meaningful things. I remember vividly the christening of my sister's twins. That was just the most amazing thing - to see those babies sleeping so peacefully while we had them blessed and prayed over. They weren't even aware that, no matter what happened all the rest of their lives - long or short - people had asked God to bless and keep them.

And funerals are the hardest ceremonies to experience. It's like the very public acceptance of the reality of death. Sad but, I believe, necessary. Funerals are never for the dead, but only a way for those left alive to begin dealing with their grief. A way to force us to deal with our grief.

Weddings though, there is just something so special about them. It doesn't matter if the couple is rich or poor, royal or common. The location and surroundings don't have to be exotic or formal. The biggest thing about the wedding is that two people are about to start a life together. That's a really big deal.

While I was watching my niece go from being a single person to becoming a family with this person she loves, I kept thinking of her as the little girl she used to be. When she was young, she could be shy, she could be daring, and she could tapdance on your last good nerve by pushing the rules. To paraphrase Stevie Wonder, she had once been a little nappy-headed child. Now suddenly, she was this grown woman standing at the wedding altar with this aura of joy radiating out of her. Just unreal. And the groom couldn't take his eyes off of her. He looked mesmerized and I wondered if he was remembering to breathe. I can't even properly describe how happy they both looked. They found something that not everyone does.

I don't care what modern vibes dictate, I still believe in old-fashioned commitment so I love everything about taking vows and coupling up. That's why I was fascinated by something the officiating minister did during this ceremony.  Before reciting the traditional rites, he handed the bride and groom cups of sand, each of a different color. He spoke about what it means to be two separate and single people, each with their individual thoughts, ideas, and emotions. He said that marriage was the act of those separate people willingly coming together, joining their hearts and goals to become as one. He then had them pour their cups of sand into a single bowl, explaining that, like the sand, they were now coming together to make something new. That was the nicest illustration of marriage that I have ever witnessed.

You need to know that the groom is already the father of a young child who stood next to the best man during the service. So, while I am already tearing up at the whole pouring of the sand thing, the minister went next level. He called the child forward and explained that was an extension of this new union between the bride and groom. Then he gave the kid a cup of sand to pour into the bowl.

Listen, at this point, I couldn't hold back the tears any longer. Not just me, but everyone in the church is sniffling and snuffling. I'm trying to hold the phone up to keep recording while I wipe my eyes and nose. I'm a complete mess. People watching the video are commenting that they can hear me crying. Yeah. Like they weren't all crying right along with me. We can, on occasion, be an emotional bunch of folk.

Anyway.

It's a week later, and am still thinking of the wedding. What a big moment for those two young people. Huge moment. I hope they cherish the magnitude of what they have done. I wish that I had appreciated my own ceremony and what it meant. I was so young and foolish. Thankfully, I truly believe that my niece and her new husband get it. I could almost see her shining with happiness and gratitude as she was escorted up the aisle by my brother. As she and the groom came down the aisle, on the way into their new life, they both looked so happy and giddy. Almost like they were thinking, "Did we just do this?" They were so dang adorable. And now there are even more people in my family to love.

So, yeah, that was a big, big moment. For the couple and for their child. I don't think I can take any more ceremonies of any kind for a while. I'm still feeling the emotional high from that wedding. I just wish so much that my mother could have been here to see her youngest son's youngest daughter getting married and becoming all in one day not just a wife but a mother too. Mom would be so proud. And she would have right there, crying with me.

Now I am over here, holding my breath, waiting for the next beautiful thing to happen, whatever it may be.

Peace
--Free



It's a little sugary sweet, but it's also perfect for this post

Thursday, August 01, 2019

If I Had A Hammer

One of my black clouds started descending on me last night after watching the news. There is a good reason that I almost never watch, listen to, or try to think about the news anymore and the person reason is one word, five letters. (It's Trump, okay. It's Trump.). However, I somehow clicked onto a newscast.  Big mistake. After about 5 minutes, I was so depressed that I felt like crying. Seriously. I had to switch away from that news channel before I sunk any deeper into a funk.

So I was just sitting in front of the TV, vegetating in my misery, and switching from show to show when I ran across one about magic. Teens and spell-casting. I switched again and caught another show, this one about medieval teens and spell-casting.
source

Now, I am a Christian so I don't dabble with any kind of sorcery - not dark or light or shades in between. However, I did start to wonder what kind of magic or superpower I would choose if I was into that kind of thing. Or what if I just found a genie in a bottle?

I'm pretty sure that, even in a make-believe world, asking for more wishes would be dirty pool. So with just 3 wishes, I'd need to be careful. Of course, I could wish to feed the world's hungry or to cure diseases. But I think there are more important things to worry about. 

My first wish would be to make sure that positive things were more popular than negative things.

I know that there's a lot of social ugliness going on these days. Thanks to that loose cannon in the White House and all his butt-sucking minions, we seem to be living in some kind of parallel universe where all the wrong guys won all the big wars. Okay, maybe that's a bit harsh. I don't know, but my point is that reports of the deaths of civility and decency are greatly exaggerated.

There are more kind people than we hear about. There are more examples of selflessness and neighborly concern than we will ever hear about. Nice is not news. Just like fully clothed and ordinary-looking people don't usually have million-plus Instagram followers or Facebook Likes.


But nice is out there. Kindness is out there. There are people who check on their neighbors (while we only hear stories of the person who was lying dead in their home for weeks). There are parents who still raise their children to be decent adults without turning them into self-entitled brats who would murder someone in their sleep. There are poor and disadvantaged people who aren't selling drugs or doing drivebys or addicted to opioids and being idiotically racist. There are wealthy people quietly using their money and position for positive and selfless reasons.

There are men and women still looking for a solid relationship in which they can be faithful and loving, lifetime partners. There are men and women who don't fit every negative sexual and social stereotype we put on them. There are young people who have goals and dreams that they are willing to work hard for. There are people who have made really bad mistakes who are trying to work past those mistakes and do better.

Yeah, so that would be my first wish. To have people focus on the positive. I just want to live in a world where all the good things about people are more celebrated. It might kill off the genre of reality television but, well that's another positive. And, with everyone focused on the uplifting and positive things in the world, I'm sure we could take care of hunger and diseases.

I do have some ideas for my second wish but I will hold that for another post. I'll just save the third wish for an emergency. You never know, we might need that one down the road.

Peace
--Free










Monday, July 29, 2019

**REVIEW** MiraBerry Miracle Berry Tablets

Last week when I reviewed the amazing Miracle Berry in freeze-dried form, I mentioned that I would be getting a chance to try the tablets. These are the MiraBerry tablets I am reviewing:



I was kind of excited. The first time I checked the product page, the MiraBerry tablets were described this way: "each tablet is made with approximately three miracle berries" Uh, no way. The freeze-dried berries I tried were game-changing. While I loved the idea of getting the same taste-switching effect from something in a tablet form, I wasn't sure about the hype. As awesome as they are though, the freeze-dried berries are tricky to carry in your purse if you don't want to crush them.



The tablets, I figured would be easy. Like packing some Midol or Excedrin, right? Absolutely. The tablets certainly are conveniently packaged. Not only are they in a box, but the tabs are individually protected. This is good. And... that's about it for the positives.



Now, I don't want to badmouth all brands of Miracle Berry tablets but I was really disappointed with these. I went over and read a bunch of reviews for various brands of tablets. Looks like, with most tablets, it's a kind of hit or miss deal, regardless of who makes them. People generally seem to either really love the effect or are totally disappointed. I don't know. I might at some point try a different brand of tablets.

The worse thing about these tablets is that they took forever to dissolve - I timed it out at over 5 minutes and there was still icky residue on my tongue. In contrast, the freeze-dried berries just kind of melted with my saliva. Also, they tasted nice. These tablets were seemed to be made of compressed grit and have very little taste. The slight taste they have is nasty.



I had planned to try the tablets with the same items as with the berries: lemon water, straight lemon, apple cider vinegar, and some hot sauce. I never got past the lemon water. From the first sip, I knew that the tablets were nowhere near as effective as the berries. I even added 2 more tablets to see if that would help. They took so long to dissolve that I think the effects of the first tablet had worn off...

Even with the 2 tablets, the lemon water tasted pretty much the same as it does without any enhancer. No way was I going to do straight lemon or any of the other stuff.

So these tablets were a bust.

Now to be fair, I have also read some negative reviews of the freeze-dried berries but the negatives usually are to do with customer service and not the berries. One customer felt their bag had been short a few berries and another was annoyed that their package arrived damaged. Negative reviews about the tablets were similar to mine - all about the effectiveness.

I also have to commend the seller of these tablets. Once I let them know that I was unhappy with the product, they issued a full refund. Good customer service matters. I have to point out that my review was the only one (as of today) for this particular brand. So there's that.

Here's the thing: these berry products are, I believe, really useful in some cases. For myself, I cut so much sugar from my diet on the days I used the berries. I didn't think that I was taking in that much sugar every day because I've been using Monk Fruit sweetener a lot of the time. It's the sugar in all those dessert-like coffee creamers I love that was bad. When using the berries, I was cutting back on my coffee and drinking more lemon-infused water. I find it so much easier to drink the lemon-water than to drink lemonade. When I drink lemonade - you know, sugar-sweetened lemon-water - I add too much sugar. Yeah, I know, I need to be more disciplined.

The main thing I like about using the berries is that it just cuts the sugar totally out of a beverage. No artificial sweeteners or possibly dangerous substitutes but just sugar-free. Sadly, the tablets did not compare with the berries.

If I get a chance to try a different brand of the tablets, I will post a review.

Peace
--Free


P.S.: I have just now noticed that the seller has submitted the following comment to my online review:
Thank you for that review! We are processing your refund - I believe you'll enjoy our powder much more! The pills require a lot more processing and we find it not as effective as the powder or actual berries; however, there has always been a curiosity and demand for the pills, which we felt necessary to provide. Our powder is simply pure berries crushed and mixed with a small amount of organic arrow root to keep from clumping. We did our best to make sure it's as close to the eating the berry as possible. Finally, we removed the language about each pill taking three berries. Even though it's true, it's not a good comparison. AS A NEW SELLER, YOUR REVIEW IS WORTH GOLD TO US. THANK YOU!!!
I thanked them for their honesty and I have to admit that I might even try their powder. Also, the product has been removed from sale.




Not sure where my emotions are lately, but some of these lyrics seem to fit



Thursday, July 25, 2019

**REVIEW** Miracle Berry Anyone?

So I had been hearing so much about the Miracle Berry that I just had to go ahead and try it in some form. Apparently, I came to the party late. Really late. Let's do a little background first.

The Miracle Berry comes from the Synsepalum dulcificum plant. Say that fast just once and I'll dance at your wedding. This is what the plant and berry look like:


from Wikipedia.com

The story goes that West Africans would eat the berry to make certain foods more palatable. And, of course, once an outsider saw this, the found a way to make money from it.

Now that the berry has become trendy, people are using them in freeze-dried or tablet forms to have "flavor-tripping parties". The fresh berry is supposed to give the best effects but has such a poor shelf life that the freeze-dried and tablet format is most popular. Also, you need a really healthy bank account to afford the actual berries. You can buy a plant and wait a couple of years for it to bear the fruit.

The flavor-tripping part comes in because, after eating the berry and coating your tongue with it, sour things become sweet. Lemons and limes taste as if sugar has been added, hot sauces become honey-hot (or so I hear), and naturally sweet fruits become even sweeter. That is for the flavor trippers who will move on to the next trend mentioned on social media. For some people though, the Miracle Berry has a more useful quality.

Some cancer patients and other folks who have a loss of taste (and appetite) may benefit from using the berry. Apparently, it not only tricks the tastebuds but also heightens their ability. I hope I said that correctly. For other people - say, those who need to cut back on sugar intake for weight loss or other more potentially serious reasons - the berry is pretty useful. I fall into this latter category. How many menopausal women in their late 50s don't? Ten women. That's how many. Trust me. There are already cookbooks featuring the berry, like The Miracle Berry Diet Cookbook by Homaro Cantu. People jumped on the trend before it even got a good start. Just like with any other trend that has come around so far, there are no miracle diets no matter what people say. All (non-surgical) weight loss requires some measure of discipline.

Anyway, I have been suffering through a routine of having a glass of lemon water in the morning and before bedtime. For some reason, it helps settle my nervous stomach. And, supposedly, it helps with weight loss. Supposedly...  It's going on 3 weeks and while I think the drink helps me feel better, it's been a struggle. So I got some of these freeze-dried berries to try out.

Only brand I've tried so far, but I like it
I have to say that I am surprised at how pricey the berries (in any form) can be. I chose this particular item mainly because it was a 2-pack for the same price as other 1-pack deals. It seems to be common for the berries to be sold in halves in and quantities of 10 or 20 halves. Tablets seem to cost more but I will be trying some of those also.

It's suggested that the berries work best and have a longer effect if you cleanse your palate beforehand. I went all out and re-brushed my teeth and rinsed with a lot of warm water before taking the first berry. Remember, the berries are halved so I used one half just to see how well it would work

The red outer skin you can spit out. The rest can be swallowed.

First thing I did was set out my tasting cups. I had my mixture of 1 part lemon to 1/2 part water in one cup. In the next cup, I had a capful of straight lemon juice (bottled concentrate). The third cup was a capful of straight apple cider vinegar. The last cup was a capful each of lemon juice, lime juice, ACV, and a teaspoon of raw honey stirred in.

The berry half softens really quickly with saliva and is easy to move around on the tongue. I had planned to swish the pulp for a really long time to increase the effect but... Nah. The berry quickly begins to melt away and is gone in less than 20 or 30 seconds. There is a little bit of residue of the skin or shell but I just swallowed that.

I was surprised that the berry wasn't super sweet itself. Maybe that's because it's freeze-dried and melts away so fast?

First, I tasted the lemon water mix. And... I will be doggone if it wasn't kind of nice. There was a tangy bite to it, but it was just sweet enough that I liked it. Next up, I worked up the nerve to try the straight lemon juice. Guess what? This tasted even better than the lemon water. I think that the tangier or more sour the drink, the better the Miracle Berry works. The cup of the ACV was my warning. Yes, it was sweet and pleasant - on the tongue - but as soon as the fumes hit my throat, my eyes watered. As I mentioned, just because you're tricking your tastebuds, you're still ingesting acidic stuff. I was careful to just sip some of the final mixture. Again, because this was a lot more sour and acidic, the berry seemed to go into overdrive. Still, I had that mild throat burn with the lemon, lime, and vinegar. The honey did not help that at all.

So, yeah, you can have fun with sour stuff, but only until it hits your throat. Apparently, swallowing the berry pulp didn't help coat that area enough.

I am not a lover of very spicy things so the best I could do was to try some Frank's hot sauce. I tapped a little from my finger to the center of my tongue and... Hot damn! It was still too spicy!. However, there was a tinge of weird sweetness. It was sort of what I imagine a really spicy honey sauce to taste like. I'm not a fan. I only eat a mild hot sauce when I have cheese or some other dairy to pair it with.

Of course, one of the things I do wish I could enjoy is black coffee. I do alright with a really good black coffee, but it's rare that I make a cup so well that I can stand it without creamer and sweetener. Sadly, the Miracle Berry does nothing for cutting the bitter taste of black coffee. Nothing at all. Too bad. If I could do black coffee, I could lose weight like nobody's business. I can almost live on nothing but coffee. Unfortunately, my coffee is just one half a calorie away from being a full-on dessert. On the other hand, I did find that the Miracle Berry helped boost the sweetening power of the Monk Fruit I sometimes use in my coffee. I will have to experiment with mixing up my own milk, vanilla extract, and Monk Fruit creamer to use with the Miracle Berry. That could be my way out of always using the calorie-heavy flavored creamers I so love. I'm talking about you, Sweet Italian and Vanilla Caramel coffee creamers!

Now here is where I can tell you that the effects of the berry only lasted just around 15 or 16 minutes that first time. I know because when I took another sip of the lemon juice that had just been so nice, I made a face that I would not want to be photographed. The tart was back.

I took another half berry so that I could taste test a few more things. I tried a sweet pepper and it was SO good. Yum. It wasn't so much sweet as it was highly flavorful. Red grapes and red cherries were so sweet that I almost couldn't stand it. It's as if they hyper-sweet took away from the overall taste of the fruits.

Cranberry juice is another of those things that we women try to drink on a regular basis. Again, I struggle with drinking it. With the berry, the juice was still tangy-on-the-verge-of-sour but so mellowed that it was pleasant.

So I can say that I like the berry best for the way it changes the taste of really sour things. I wasn't crazy about the way it made sweet fruits taste. It changed the core flavor somehow. The cherry wasn't just super sweet, it also lost some of its flavor, if that makes sense. The grapes just became too over-sweet.

The one thing I didn't have on hand to try is goat cheese (which is supposed to flavor-trip to tasting like a cheesecake) and greek yogurt. I can't wait until I restock on groceries. Just imagine going for a week eating and drinking nothing but greek yogurt, lemon water, and salad with raisins or grapes.

I have read about some people who used Miracle Berry to detox from sugar for a couple of weeks.I have seen a lot of articles like this one talking about various benefits of using the berries. Just ditching sugar is on my list of goals. Also, I like the idea of being able to substitute the berry's effects for using artificial sweeteners. So far, I haven't heard anything negative about the Miracle Berry. I'm sure if I look hard enough I can find something but, for now, I think I will like having some of the fruit around all the time.

When I get the Miracle Berry tablets, I hope to try more items - especially the yogurt and goat cheese. Come to think of it, I wonder how yummy some goat milk creamer would taste in my coffee after eating a berry? Hmmm...

I will be sure to update if I get a chance to review other brands of the Miracle Berry.

Peace
--Free








This used to be one of my favorite work-out songs.