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Jan 12, 2018

The Best Banana Bread Recipe

A few days ago, I shared a photo of a banana bread I baked on Instagram. I almost always get the comment, "Recipe, please!". I figured I need to start adding more recipes on the blog. I actually found this banana bread recipe years ago, and have tweaked it slightly to my taste. It's so good because you don't need a mixer, and it can all be done in one bowl. Less cleaning is always a good thing! 
Ingredients:

2 to 3 very ripe, large bananas
1/3 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar (adjust to your taste)
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a regular sized loaf pan either by buttering, using cooking spray, or lining with parchment. Mash bananas and add all wet ingredients, followed by dry. Mix until fully combined and spoon into pan. If you are using walnuts, add them to the top of the batter. Bake for 45-60 minutes. Insert a wooden toothpick in center to test if it's baked all the way. Toothpick should come out clean. Fifty minutes usually does it for me.

Helpful Tips:

I like lining my loaf pan with parchment because you don't have to worry about sticking, and there is almost no cleanup. I also prefer adding nuts on top instead of mixed in for better crunch, and texture. They get nice and toasty from baking.


This banana bread is a winner and my family loves it. Next time you have some overripe bananas hanging around, you should try this recipe. Enjoy! 

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Jan 10, 2018

Is Your Child Wearing The Right Shoe Size?

Survey Finds That Minority of All Kids Wear the Right Shoe Size

Your kid’s cool Adidas sneakers may look great, but do they fit properly? Shoes that are too small put children at risk of foot deformities and other serious health issues. The bad news for parents; almost two thirds of all children are wearing shoes that are too small!
Blitzresults conducted a survey and found that 65% of all kids are wearing shoes that are too small. Of these, 47% are one size too small and 18% are even two. Only 35% are wearing the correct size and only 11% of those have “room to grow”.

Improperly fitting shoes can cause hallux valgus. This is a foot deformity, it happens when the big toe starts to angle inward, which causes a swollen lump just below the big toe. A study conducted by the National Health Institute found that almost 30% of children had irreversible foot deformities, like hallux valgus.

To help parents make sure they are buying shoes that fit their kids properly, keep the following advice in mind:

  • Go by the longer foot: The right and left foot are rarely the same length. A difference of up to half an inch is normal, that’s almost one whole shoe size. Therefore, parents should always go by the longer foot when buying shoes.
  • Don’t rely on the shoe size: Shoe manufacturers label shoes with standard sizes, the ones we all know. But, there is no mandatory industry standard for shoe sizing, so each brand will vary. Be sure to try on every shoe carefully.
  • Give ‘em room: Most parents are aware that feet need some room, but usually underestimate the actual room needed. At least ½ inch of additional room is optimal, it’s the only way kids can roll their foot properly when walking.
  • Do a regular check: Tim Lilling, expert at blitzresults.com, tells us that, "Because the sense of touch isn’t fully developed in children yet, they have a tendency to squeeze their feet into shoes that are much too small, they don’t even notice it. Therefore, parents must measure their children’s feet every 2 months." A measuring guide, useful conversion tools and a lot of information on how to choose shoes with the perfect fit can be found at https://www.blitzresults.com/en/childrens-shoe-size.

Unfortunately, many parents still use these "tricks" to judge whether shoes fit:

  • Trick: Hold shoe to foot. The shoe sole is held up to the child’s foot to estimate the size, but the length on the inside of the shoe can’t be estimated from the outside, and is often much shorter than you’d expect (lining, seams, foot bed). Better: Use an appropriate measuring device.
  • Trick: The thumb test. The thumb presses on the toe of the shoe to see how much room there is to grow. The problem; children often draw their toes up by reflex, so the foot is rolled under. It may seem like there’s enough room, although, in reality, the shoes are too small. Using the heel test is just as bad for judging free space in the heel. Many kids push their feet forward until their toes are crammed in. Better: Carefully feel your child´s foot inside the shoe. Place one hand on the front of the shoe, so the child can’t draw their toes up. Then, with the other hand, check the position of the toes. This way you can feel whether there is enough room to grow.
  • Trick: Size comparison using a stencil. The shape and size of the foot is traced and compared with the shoe sole, but this comparison is usually imprecise. Better: If there is a removable insole, take it out and place the foot on the insole, there should be 1/3 inch of space behind the heel and half an inch in front of the toes.
  • Trick: Asking them how it feels. Parents ask kids; "Does the shoe fit?" Unfortunately, the answer will likely be wrong. Often, the nerves in kid’s feet are not fully developed yet and their awareness of pain is clearly lower than an adult’s, so, kids don't realize if the shoe fits. Better: First and foremost, measure their feet.


Converters, measuring guides and tips and tricks to find the right size can be found here.

Main findings of the survey:


  • 65% of all kids are wearing shoes that are too small. Of these, 47% are one size too small and 18% are even two.
  • Only 35% are wearing the correct size, and only 11 % of those have room to grow.
  • Of the parents surveyed, 52% said they’d never measured their kid's foot length, but instead relied solely on sensorial and visual tests.


About the study:
2109 parents were asked about their kids’ foot length and shoe size. Afterward, special measuring devices and instructions on how to measure feet properly were given to the parents. The measurement values were used to calculate the actual shoe size, then these results were compared with the parents’ hit or miss values.

About BlitzResults.com:
BlitzResults is an open source educational platform with focus on science, consumer affairs and technology. A wide variety of tools, converters and checklists help users to calculate optimal results. All tools were created in collaboration with educational institutions and every info-graphic is licensed under creative commons and may be used free of charge in educational context.
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Jan 5, 2018

Date Night: The Romance of NYC

It can be hard to keep the spark alive in a long-term relationship or marriage, but sometimes all you need to do is go away for a bit. Even more difficult is finding a proper date to start. Being romantic is no easy task, but whether you are taking time away from the family you’ve made or you’re on a first date, New York City makes the ideal date easy to plan.

Relaxed Romance
photo credit
If you want a slow-paced date with your husband or want to get to know someone quietly overtime, choose one of New York City’s lush, beautiful gardens. Brooklyn Botanical Garden, for example, is a paradise of flora and fauna. With acres of romantic cherry blossoms and an on-site conservatory, this natural beauty is sure to set your hearts aflutter.

A bit of Childhood Whimsy

Sometimes, it can be hard to be yourself on a date – especially on a first date. Head over to Brooklyn Heights and take a ride on the gorgeous Jane’s Carousel. This hundred-year-old children’s attraction will bring you back to a simpler time and put your mind and heart at ease around that special someone. Top off this idyllic afternoon at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, which is just nearby. You can take a more cultured route and take in a show at St. Ann’s Warehouse.

A Night Out

The Slipper Room on the Lower East Side is a seductive experience for a date that needs close contact. With performance art, comedy, dancers and singers, you and your date will find something exciting going on here on any night of the week. Take in the swanky atmosphere of this throwback lounge and create the ideal first date.

In Brooklyn, you’ll find the aptly named Brooklyn Night Bazaar. There is too much to do in just one night, but if you can manage it, you can play mini golf, belt it out at karaoke, and experience the fun of being a kid with arcade games. Dinner, drinks, and vintage knick-knacks give this artisanal-scented marketplace the best date night vibe out there.

Traditional is Fine, Too

If you crave that classic dinner and movie vibe, Greenpoint is famous for its rustic pizza house and you can take in the awe-inspiring skyline of Manhattan. Over in Williamsburg, the Nitehawk Cinema is a lux movie theatre that serves a full menu (tacos, anyone?), large and comfortable lounge chairs, and showings of retro and independent films alike. You can even get a drink with your movie.

photo credit
Find a tour of the city at https://www.topviewnyc.com/ if you cannot exactly decide what to do on a romantic getaway. An informed tour guide can give you a plethora of ideas and you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of them yourself.

While New York City hasn’t been nicknamed the city of love, it is certainly overflowing with art galleries, high-end and unique restaurants, and a botanic paradise in all that steel and chrome. For your next big date, New York City has something for every couple.

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Dec 21, 2017

How Being Middle-Aged Has Changed My Life

I have been going through so many changes this year. It has been an unfortunate year filled with loss in a lot of different ways. I have really learned who is truly in my corner, through good and bad. It turns out that number has tremendously dwindled, and I struggled with it. I have been taking time out for myself to rest, refresh, and reset almost daily. If I'm not close to 100% emotionally and physically, well then I'm simply no good to anyone.

I have experienced some really great things this year. When I chose to stop focusing so hard on what I have lost, it opened my heart and mind to clearly see how much I have gained.
  • Worrying- I had to put a stop to this. I became so immersed in worry/anxiety/panic that it started to affect my well-being. I had to pound into my head that I can't change or control everything. Obsessing over things that might go the wrong way, or maybe go the right way isn't living. I had to come to a point where I say to myself, "Whatever the outcome may be, I will deal with it". As small as that might seem, it has helped me a lot. Things are going to happen the way they are intended. I can't do a thing about anything that has happened in the past. I can only focus on what's to come. 
  • Putting myself first- Most women don't know what this even means or how you even do it. I have made my health and happiness a priority. That is not negotiable. I no longer feel guilty doing nice things for myself or even indulging in what I want. As long as I don't go above my means, I allow myself the pleasures of life. I don't skimp on things for myself any more. 
  • Eating and sleeping- It's so hard sometimes to eat properly when all you want is cheese fries and sushi. I still fight hard to maintain balance, but don't deny myself of what I really want on occasion. I do drink plenty of water daily, and know if I haven't had enough by the way I feel. I find myself taking naps as I need. I don't worry about the dishes in the sink because they will still be there when I get up. Some nights I go to bed before 10:00. A well-rested Shelly is a happy Shelly. 
  • Protecting my spirit- I have been staying away from watching the news. The negativity really gets to me, especially when it deals with sexual abuse. It has come to the point where I have to deactivate some of my social media accounts for short periods of time. If it's not positively feeding my spirit, I steer clear of it. 
  • Saying no- For most of my life, I have felt a deep obligation to doing things for people. I would feel so guilty to not help. It has come to a point that if my gut tells me to say no, I say just that. The best part is I offer little to no explanation. Now that's some real growth right there! 
  • Ditching the planner- I have spent way too many years planning every single moment of my life down to the minute. I dumped my planner somewhere in my office and life has gone smoothly since then. Sometimes my husband will ask me if I want to take a ride to the beach or up north on a whim. This normally would have freaked me out because it wasn't planned, but now I don't care. I grab my shoes and bag and GO! 
  • Getting in pictures- I learned some time last year that my husband has been sneaking photos of me every time we travel. He would take pictures while I was applying make-up or cooking. I saw some of the photos and was like, you better not let anyone see these awful pictures of me! He didn't see it that way at all. He explained that my true essence shined through as I did the things I would normally do. I was being ME. He simply wants our children to have photos to look back on of me doing things either for myself, with them, or with him. Memories is what it's about. I've stopped being so hard on myself and started hopping in front of the lens instead of behind it. All of my 'imperfections' are perfectly me, and I have grown to accept them.

Although I have experienced significant growth over the last year, I know I still have more to go. I'm open to it and not letting fear get in my way. So what's next? I don't know, and I don't intend on planning for it. I will let things be. Thanks for stopping by today.
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Dec 14, 2017

The Four Most Common Cosmetic Surgery Procedures for Women

Women all around the world have turned to cosmetic surgeons to help them achieve the physique and face that they desire. There are many different procedures available to women that feel they would like to change some aspect of their features and appearance.

Cosmetic surgery provides women with an option to take control of their body and eliminate their insecurities by improving their self-image. Here are the top four most-requested cosmetic procedures of 2017.

#1 Breast Augmentation
One of the most widely requested and well-researched cosmetic surgery procedures is breast augmentation. Many people know this by the term ‘breast implants’. However, an augmentation procedure is not meant to be thought of as just inserting some implants. Breast augmentation can also include lifts and tucks of the breast, as well as work on the aureole and nipple area.

Specialist surgeons will arrange a personalized consultation that gives the patient a choice of size and shape of their new breasts. The procedure is relatively complicated but comfortable enough for surgeons to complete without any severe complications.
Recovery time from breast augmentation is minimal, with most recovering in as little as six weeks. After the healing is complete, there is a follow-up process for the patient to complete to ensure no complications occur in the future.

Breast augmentation has been proven to have a lasting impact on the self-image of women and increases their confidence and self-image which is why it is the worlds most requested cosmetic procedure.

#2  Rhinoplasty
This procedure refers to cosmetic surgery on the nose. Statistics show that more than 220,000 women underwent a rhinoplasty operation in 2017. Colloquially referred to as a ‘nose job,' rhinoplasty offers women with insecurities around the size and shape of their nose, an opportunity to sculpt it into their ideal image.

Rhinoplasty is not always conducted purely for an aesthetic purpose. Some women may have difficulty breathing through their nose due to an abnormality such as a deviated septum. Rhinoplasty can reconstruct the nose and ensure the patient proper breathing ability through their nose.

#3 Abdominoplasty
Commonly referred to as a ‘tummy tuck,' Abdominoplasty removes unsightly cellulite and sagging skin from the abdominal area. Women that may have recently lost a significant amount of weight, or are recovering from pregnancy may have sagging skin. A tummy tuck removes the excess skin and adipose tissue from the abdominal area, returning the abdomen to its typical structure and shape. Abdominoplasty is the most popular form of cosmetic surgery in Australia, with many older patients requesting the procedure.

#4 Jaw Re-Shaping
This procedure is prevalent among Asian communities. Asians tend to experience a broad jaw-line in their genetic predisposition. This jaw-line creates the appearance of a round-face, even if the persons BMI is low. There are procedures available that shave down the jawline, however, this kind of intrusive surgery can be intimidating for many people.

There is a non-surgery alternative offered by top aesthetic clinics such as Dore Aesthetics. This non-surgical procedure involves jawline contouring sessions that are performed every week until the jawline is re-shaped to the desired ‘almond’ appearance.

The Final Thought
If you feel that your self-image could use a boost, then speak to a cosmetic surgeon about the options open to you. Remember to get a second opinion and only consider the surgery if you feel that it will improve your quality of life.
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