Writers Block & Other Things

Hello Fan Friends!

I know it has been such a long time since I updated and I promise it’s with good reason. In addition to me having probably one of the worst writers blocks I’ve experienced in quite some time, I’ve had a lot of stuff going on in my personal life which prevented me from being as active as I wanted to be. For starters, I got a new job so the last few weeks post Fourth of July I have been focused on learning everything I need to be successful in this new professional venture of mine.

My favorites for the month of July and August will be posted sometime this weekend and I can’t wait to share with you all the things I love, mainly Schmidt’s low carb bread. I am also really excited to share with you my low-carb grilled cheese recipe. Grilled cheese is one of the things I missed most about my old lifestyle since adopting more lower carb eating habits and I am BEYOND thrilled to share with you how you can still enjoy a childhood classic with sacrificing a ‘cheat day’.

This week was really rough week where I am located on the east coast here in the USA. We were hit with a tropical storm, Isaias, which left us without power for over 20 hours. Let me tell you all, it’s amazing how much we take for granted the ability to plug in our cell phones into outlets within our homes. Having and trying to get a full night’s rest with no air-conditioning in the house was no fun either.

I think the scariest part about the whole experience with Isaias was getting my first ever tornado warning in my 31 years of life living in my state. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a basement to head into so I needed to scoop Draco up and run us into the bathtub. Thankfully the tornado did not strike my town instead it hit a town about 20 minutes south of me. It was still a super scary experience for us, both Draco and myself, especially since Tom was at work when it was happening. Thankfully God provided and we weren’t affected with any damage just the loss of power but majority of my state lost power too so we weren’t alone. 

The power at my job was also affected and not yet restored so as a result yesterday, after the power was soundly restored, I took Draco for a much needed walk with my best friend, Jen, who came by to join us. Draco was very happy to get out and get some exercise, I felt bad because I haven’t been able to walk him as much as I usually do as a result of going back to work. I figured I would take advantage of the fact that I didn’t have to go into the office and treat him to a nice walk. Boy was it hot though!

I would like to give a very special shout out to MindBeautySimplicity (we share the same first name too, how cool is that?!) for her wonderful comment this morning. As a writer, we are motivated by the comments we receive, knowing that my blog has made such a positive difference in someone’s life motivates me as a writer to post more frequently. It’s also a reminder to everyone who stops by, please leave a comment, it’s nice to know I am missed and what I have to say matters. Keeping content fresh and relative isn’t always easy for us writers we have to stretch our minds and really think, “does my audience care about this?” Hearing from all of you and knowing what you enjoy reading about helps me narrow down what content to post.

At any rate, I hope this update finds you all safe, well, and healthy. I look forward to posting more frequently as I adjust to my new routine. 

Happy 4th of July!

In lieu of a full post this week, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all those who celebrate, here in the USA, a very happy 4th of July!

Those of us who live here in the USA were the privileged few to have been born in free country. We were able to breathe the fresh free air since our birth. We remember our national heroes today. Together we have proved ourselves worthy of freedom! On this special day, let us take come forward and make a promise to take our nation on the path of prosperity so that people can live a happy life. Happy Independence day to all.

5 ways being a Dog Mom makes my life complete!

There’s a debate amongst the Moms and the Dog Moms often about should Pet-Parenthood be considered Parenthood at all. Since COVID-19 came on the scene here in the US only 6 months ago, a lot of us began working from home and spending a lot more time inside with our fur children. Being a dog mom means planning your day-to-day life around my four-legged son’s schedule. That means coming home by a certain time, making sure he’s well fed and taking him on daily walks.

But as you know, all of these dog mom tasks are more of a privilege than a chore, because being a dog mom to the best fur baby around is priceless. The snuggles, the unconditional love, the playtime romps around the dog park.

What does being a dog Mom really mean to me? Glad you asked!

1. Draco always makes me smile-no matter what kind of day I’m having Draco always brings a smile to my face! Whether it be a good day or a tough day he’s always there waiting to get excited with me or comfort me if I cry. Having that unconditional love at my disposal makes my life complete!

2. I’m just as excited for Christmas Day and to see the look on Draco’s face when we watch him open his presents!-yes Santa Claus comes and brings presents to your children he also brings some presents to my fur child. While I do not post these pictures on social media, I do often get up very early with Draco so he can open his treats from Santa. It makes Tom and I very happy to see the way his little face lights up as he gets excited to see his new toys. This isn’t limited to just Christmas of course that “just because” presents are the best of all! Seeing Draco happy makes my heart burst with joy!

3. I do talk to Draco as though he’s a little boy and not a dog-While Draco cannot speak “human,” I know he can understand and will certainly listen! Fur Kids are perfect to vent to and will never judge you for what you have to get off your chest. They also won’t give you an attitude or talk back. Having Draco to talk to makes Tom and I feel so complete as fur parents!

4. I never miss an opportunity to celebrate Draco-Birthdays, holidays milestones or even just for being a good boy! Any chance we get to celebrate our boy by throwing him a party is an opportunity we jump on. Because that’s just the dog parents Tom and I are!

5. My social media pages have more pictures of Draco than Tom and myself-Why post a picture of Tom and I when there are over 50 pictures that we’ve taken of Draco that day? Part of being a dog parents means annoying all of our friends on social media. And while many may think we’re posting too much, we feel as though you haven’t posted enough of your four-legged child!

Do you have a fur baby at home that makes your life complete? Drop a comment below, let’s chat!

June-what? Understanding the Historical Significance of Juneteenth

Google pays tribute to Juneteenth 2020

This morning was much like many during this Quarantine: I woke up, checked my social media accounts, e-mails and poured myself a cup of coffee. In these quiet moments I feel gratitude as I take my first sip of delicious French vanilla. Facing me, from my perch at the kitchen table, on the wall, hangs my bachelors degree in history. It’s a piece of paper that I paid thousands of dollars to be an accredited historian. I do not have my doctorate, in fact, I was encouraged by the chair person of history at my university that I should not pursue it because it was a lot of schooling and there was no guarantee that I would even become a professor or hired on full time.

My original plan was far from building this blog. When I first set out and created this blog six years ago, I did it as a means of leaving my family and friends something, an imprint of who I was and what I enjoyed for the inevitable day when I’m not here anymore. I’ve talked a lot about my anxiety, I’ve also spent arguably a lot of time reflecting on my inevitable end. Why is this introduction necessary? Because I originally had goals and aspirations to become a high school history teacher. Unfortunately, the obstacles to become one are much too unrealistic, unethical and expensive.

Imagine for one second, if you will, going in and paying close to $150 to take a test where you are timed. All the while focusing you can see the minutes and the seconds ticking down on the right side of the screen. So you do your best, you’ve studied after all, and alas you missed the passing score you need by three points. Initially you would think, ‘no big deal, I’ll look at what I got wrong and study harder next time’, the problem is that the Praxis is an unforgiving obstacle which doesn’t tell you what questions you got wrong. It offers zero guidance and it’s usually in favor of those who can retain useless information and great test takers.  After a while, this could bring down even the most confident person. Shelling out money simply to be told your just not good enough and we don’t fancy telling you why. Alrighty then!

That degree that hangs on my wall, is a daily symbol that sometimes the things we have so intricately planned for our life just don’t work out that way. It is also a daily symbol that when one door closes, another one will surely open. Sometimes the things we hold dear to our hearts, the things we are so certain we are going to do with our lives are not what we were meant to do with our lives at all. It took me the better part of two years to walk away. I am not someone who gives up easily, I am always willing to fight another day. One thing I am not willing to compromise is my self-esteem and self worth which were completely demolished and distorted during this period in my life. Today’s post, is a somber one, it highlights the struggles many African Americans faced since the very first Juneteenth. It is also an opportunity for me to teach you something I didn’t learn about until I was in college and probably wouldn’t have learned about unless I was a history major.  One of the many issues I have with the way schools are run here in the USA today is that so much of American history is left out of American classrooms. There’s an old saying, history books are written by the winners but who are the winners? Does anybody win when nobody is educated on the whole truth?

Around Twitter I have seen so many posts saying ‘I was this years old when I learned about Juneteenth.’ and holy guacamole is that sad! Americans, regardless of their racial background, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity should know the actual history of Juneteenth. So what is Juneteenth? I’m glad you asked!

Juneteenth is actually the oldest national commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. It came about on this date (June 19th) in 1865 that Major General Granger of the Union army and his soldiers went down to Galveston, Texas to announce the Civil War was over and all enslaved African Americans were now free. Sadly, this announcement came two and half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s infamous Emancipation Proclamation ! President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation went into affect on New Year’s Day (January 1st) of 1863 but Texas basically chose to overlook it since there weren’t too many Union soldiers available to see to this new executive order being enforced.

Once General Robert E. Lee surrendered in April of 1865, the arrival of General Granger’s regiment to Texas, ensured that this executive order was no longer being ignored or rebelled against but enforced! Why it took President Lincoln’s executive order 2 1/2 years to be carried out is debated often amongst historians. Some believe that the messenger who was sent down to Texas was killed, others believe it was just deliberately ignored to maintain labor force on the plantations. My personal belief is that it was the latter. I believe Texas deliberately chose to ignore and look the other way with the new executive order. The idea of the messenger that was sent was killed (while not totally unbelievable) definitely raises some red flags on accuracy.

Think for a moment: If you were a Union general who sent one of your soldiers to deliver a message to a state which valued slavery that said slaves were now free and your messenger did not return, would that not be sketchy to you? The fact that we don’t know the name of this messenger and that there’s no actual historical backing that he was killed-it was merely speculation-tells me Texas got the message loud and clear but chose to ignore it.

So as General Granger and his men arrived in Texas one of the first things he enforced was General Order Number 3 which stated: “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”

As you can imagine, the jubilation and pure unfiltered shock amongst the newly freed African Americans was immediate and contagious. While some former slaves stayed on their plantations to navigate a new relationship with their former master now employer, as a now paid employee, others ran off as soon as word reached their ears about General Order Number 3. The celebration of Juneteenth is a reminder that even though President Lincoln had abolished slavery 2 1/2 years before it took a literal regiment to see to it that this new executive order was enforced everywhere. Holding Texans responsible for enforcing these laws reestablished United States’ authority in the newly rejoined southern states and ultimately freed all African Americans.

For so many of these newly freed slaves, The most logical destination was to go north where many of them sought to find real freedom. Juneteenth celebrates these challenges that these newly freed men and women faced in new territories. It navigated their struggles in finding their place in a society that saw them for so long as lesser than. June 19th was coined Juneteenth and celebrated earnestly by the decedents of freed African Americans as a time to spend with family, reflect on their past and pray for a brighter future.

When I look at the way our country is today, seeing the renewed vigor of the Black Lives Matter movement in marches on raising awareness and leading protests, there is no doubt that this Juneteenth will be very special. Even NFL football teams, such as the Carolina Panthers, have shown their respect for this little known holiday by closing their offices on this date. As for the question I posed above: If history is really written by the winners does anyone win if the true historical significance of a day isn’t remembered and shared?  I would say boldly, no. There are no winners when the citizens of a country remain uneducated about the historical significance of a day which impacted the lives of millions of African-Americans, particularly those in the southern states who cling to the abomination that was slavery as a means to control others deserving of human rights. Rather it’s a reminder, if you will, about how far we’ve come as a nation but also how much further we have to go to ensure that all men and women feel safe, equal, and valued within the country they call home.

If you’d like to learn more, be sure to check out these fabulous resources:

National Registry Juneteenth Organizations and Supporters

What I love about this site is it tells you not only the history but customs which those who celebrate have such as foods, clothing and the history of festivals which struggled to be celebrated in public places before the Civil Rights Movement.

What is Juneteenth?

PBS gives an in-depth timeline and historical walk through on Juneteenth and its impact on African Americans in this easy to read, highly educational article. Plus it’s PBS, which fondly taught us so much about our nation’s history in our youth so I’m not going to lie, it’s nostalgic too.

The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth

The Smithsonian is a historical accredited institution that has a wealth of information on all things historical. The post linked has a brief overview of Juneteenth as well as historical images which give information regarding regarding this lesser-known holiday.

I really hope you take the time to do your own research and learn about this historically important day. Wishing each and everyone of you a blessed Juneteenth! Have a wonderful day!

DIY Rooting and Planting A Pineapple Crown

Hello Fan Friends!

What a week! As everything prepares to begin to opening in wake of the Coronavirus here in the United States I’ve been trying to plant roots and seeds of my favorite fruits and vegetables to see if they grow.

Now two weeks ago I had promised that I would update you on my attempt to grow a pineapple plant. So far I have zero germination on the seeds in the jar, however, I did learn that they can take up to three months to actually grow and germinate. 

If I learned one thing from this whole experience so far it’s that patience really is a virtue. They really are the sloths of the plant world in terms of growing and fruiting. Before we dive right in though, here’s what you’ll need:

  1. A Pineapple
  2. A knife for cutting up the pineapple
  3. Paper towel to allow your root to dry out on
  4. A pair of scissors for trimming the leaves.
  5. A standard pot-for planting!
  6. Soil-experts recommend perlite and sand-I used ordinary soil.
  7. A semi shaded room and space for the plant to receive adequate indirect sunlight.

Before we make it to step 7 we’re going to need to accomplish step 1 and that’s picking a pineapple! Any old pineapple from the grocery store will do just make sure it looks healthy and hardy. You want it to be just right by that I mean not too soft or soggy and not too firm and unripened.

When looking for a PERFECT Pineapple:

Stay away from any pineapples with soft spots or bruises (these are signs of damaged fruit).

Avoid pineapples with no darkened “eyes” (this means it’s “old” and has soggy flesh.

Avoid choosing over-ripened fruit (this means if you can easily pull off the leaves).

Pick a ripened pineapple that is YELLOW from the base up, however, some are green on the outside in color depending on the species. If the pineapple smells sweet and gives in just slightly to a soft pressing than congratulations! You’ve just found your perfect pineapple!

Now here’s the fun (and delicious part!), you’ll be amazed when I tell you just how just how simple the instructions are in rooting and growing pineapple crowns.

Once you’ve brought your pineapple home, you’re going to start by cutting off the leafy top about half an inch below the leaves. Next be sure to remove some of the lowest leaves. Once that’s complete you can trim off the outer portion of the pineapple top at the bottom of the crown, or stem, until you see root buds. These buds resemble small, brown-colored bumps around the stem’s perimeter.

I brought my pineapple home on a Monday and did not plant my root until Friday. It is absolutely important to make sure it has a few days to dry-some websites recommend a week but I was anxious-before planting. This helps the top of the plant heal and makes it less likely to rot. I also made sure I enjoyed the fruits of my labor, literally and figuratively, by making a delicious fruit salad which consisted of pineapple, mango and grapes. I posted the recipe last week, if you’re interested you can read about it HERE 😍.

There are SEVERAL resources online regarding the how to go about sprouting your plant. There are some people that even claim to have success growing them in water but most (like me) stick to soil. Gardening enthusiasts tend to recommend a light soil mix with perlite and sand. I didn’t use this, rather, I simply used regular soil and said whatever happens, happens. Now that you’ve got your soil, plant the pineapple crown in the soil up to the base of its leaves. Make sure to water your plant thoroughly and place it in bright, indirect light.

I placed my plant outside on my screened in porch table, it gets indirect sunlight via the bamboo blinds I have up over my windows. They THRIVE in hot and humid weather so you can totally get away with leaving your plant outside overnight in the spring and summer months as long as it’s semi-shaded and your local temperatures don’t dip below what is considered first frost. In the winter months, you’ll need to keep your plant INDOORS or it will die according to nearly every gardening YouTuber and blogger I’ve come across in my research.

Remember: don’t get discouraged: pineapples are slow-growing plants, and forget about expecting to see blooms for at least two to three years, if at all. I’ve read about ways to “force fruit” your pineapples plant but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there! In the meantime, I truly hope you have a wonderful weekend, stay safe, stay kind and stay true to YOU!

Easy Pineapple, Mango, and Grape Fruit Salad

Good Afternoon Fan Friends,

As the summer months approach nothing quite hits the spot on a hot, humid day like a fruit salad. Fruit Salad is one of my go-to dessert recipes whether I’m a guest at a BBQ or binge-watching Sex and the City re-runs on E! I love it because as a busy woman on the go, it’s quick and easy to throw together, and also a great way to get a serving of a variety of fresh fruit.

I made this salad with pineapple, grapes, and mango, but you can use any fruit that you’d prefer. Please bear in mind that I am not a dietitian or nutritionist so if you make this recipe you do so at your own risk. Always consult a doctor or medical professional about nutritional information. Never make any changes to your diet without first consulting a licensed professional. I am NOT to be held liable, please read the food and recipe DISCLAIMER thoroughly before proceeding.

Now that’s out of the way, back to the good stuff! What I love about this fruit salad is that it takes a total time of 10 minutes to throw together. I like to refrigerate it for at least two hours to let the flavors come together and get cold. The most time-consuming part of the prep is washing off and cutting up the different fruits.

I usually serve this fruit salad recipe plain for dessert or as a side dish but my Mother’s recipe for a fruit salad dressing is super light, decadent and I needed to include it. Fruit salad will last in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, when sealed tightly with plastic wrap.

I don’t recommend freezing fruit salad because the fruit will be soft when defrosted and the salad won’t seem as fresh. If you have leftover fruit salad and want to freeze it, you can store it in plastic bags and use it for other recipes like smoothies or fruit syrups later. This fruit salad recipe will stay fresh when covered and kept refrigerated, and typically won’t turn brown or oxidize.

Here’s what you need for the fruit salad:

  • The fruit of your choice. (To save time I usually get the pre-cut fresh fruit & rinse off thoroughly.) I used pre-cut pineapples, mangoes and red grapes.
  • A large bowl.
  • Salad mixing tools or two large spoons.
  • Plastic wrap

If you want to include the dressing as well you will need the following:

  • One block cream cheese.
  • One 14 oz (0.53 kg) can sweetened condensed milk.
  • One teaspoon vanilla.
  • Two tablespoons lemon juice.
  • Instructions:

    • Carefully wash your fruit to ensure any access dirt or debris is cleansed.
    • With a standard kitchen knife, carefully slice open and chop up your fruit into bite sized pieces.
    • Combine fruit pieces into a large bowl big enough to accommodate your fruits of choice and mix!
    • Cover fruit with plastic wrap and begin chilling it while working on your fruit dressing* (this is optional!)
    • Soften the cream cheese and mix in the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and lemon juice completely with a mixer.
    • Allow dressing and fruit salad to chill 1-2 hours before enjoying!

    For best results only use fresh fruit, not frozen in this fruit salad. Frozen fruit is mushy once thawed and watery so it won’t work the same here unfortunately. Keep in mind though that you can use other fruits that are in season, it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ recipe. If you’re like me, and feel super lazy on any given day you can always buy the fresh pre-cut fruit to cut down on even more time. Just make sure to give it a rinse before adding it in (better safe than sorry).

    I recommend eating this salad within 3-4 days of making it. Granted, if I happen to have any left over on day 5 or 6 of course I still eat it but it’s not quite as good as it was within the first 3-4 days.

    If you’ve bought the pre-cut fruit I recommend chopping the fruits up into almost baby bites and always up to 1 day in advance. I didn’t make the dressing this time around but when I do I also make the dressing a day in advance.

    Allow it to refrigerate overnight before taking it out of your fridge the following day. You’ll need to let dressing rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes too. I recommend tossing the fruit and dressing together when you’re ready to serve it.

    Pro Tips for Perfect Fruit Salad:

    • Use a variety of fruit. Just because I’m using pineapple, mango and grapes doesn’t mean you have to. You can literally use just about any fresh fruit will work here but if you’re going to a party and want the wow factor, I recommend using a blend to add a variety of flavor and eye-catching color.

    • Use ripened fruit. As in, you may need to plan ahead and buy the pineapple and mango nearly a week in advance because they take time to ripen.

    In an effort to keep you as informed as possible I’ve provided a nutritional cheat sheet courtesy of my friends over at HappyForks! Please note that these are only estimates. For more information in tracking what’s in your recipes you can visit them by clicking HERE!

    As always, I’d like to thank each and every one of you for following along with me on this blogging journey. We’ve reached 55 follows and I am both incredibly humbled and exceedingly blessed. I’ve learned so much and I’m looking to creating more fantastic content for you to enjoy. If you have any topics you’d like me weigh in on, recipes and products you’d like me try, or plants you’d like me to try not to kill, please drop a comment below or e-mail me at: fridayswithbrittany@gmail.com ! I’d love to hear from you!

    Blackout Tuesday

    Hello Fan Friends,

    I am writing to and appealing to you on this Blackout Tuesday to encourage you all to raise your voices and speak up about the racial injustices our fellow Americans face each day. I am an ally in support of justice, equality, and human rights FOR ALL. To all my friends who are and have been personally affected by the senseless killing of George Floyd, please know I stand with you in outrage and pain. Please know that you are LOVED and your lives hold as much VALUE as my own, and anyone else’s for that matter. You have the right to be seen, heard and respected as a citizen of the world.

    You have the right to a world that is peaceful and free from prejudices. You have the right to be treated with equality, regardless of the color of your skin. You have the right to be protected from harm, injustice, and hatred.

    You have the right to protest these injustices that will help you to make a positive change in the world.

    You also have the right to your opinions and feelings, even if others don’t agree with them.

    It costs $0.00 to listen to our brothers and sisters both within our country and around the world. We live in a world where people long to be heard and their struggles seen. Isn’t it crazy how smart our phones are yet how merciless and indifferent humanity is to one another? We live in an age of social media which brings us so close together, and yet we are alarmingly distant. Regardless of your faith or lack there of, it is important to love one another. To stand up for those who are being disadvantaged. Simply ignoring an issue because it does not affect you makes you part of the problem. Silence only gives voice to the oppressor not the oppressed.

    In my Christian faith, Jesus Christ called all of his disciples to, “love one another as I have loved you.” and yet people regard others as intangible. They turn a blind eye to the isolation and despair some suffer simply because they have the privilege of not experiencing that suffering themselves.

    As the author and creator of ‘Are You There Friday? It’s Me, Brittany’, I will continue to speak up and give voice to the voiceless. Throughout my life I have had the privilege of learning from, building personal relationships with, and working beside so many amazing people who do not deserve to be treated any differently than I do simply because of the color of their skin. I encourage each and every single one of my followers to speak out, stand up, and stand beside our fellow siblings in Christ. Our neighbors, our friends, our extended families all need us.

    As an ally, I’d like to close by taking this opportunity to welcome anyone would like to reach out and use this site as a platform for a guest contribution post. If you are interested, please email me at: fridayswithbrittany@gmail.com.

    Your voice matters and your life matters. When Black Lives Matter, then we’ll live in a world where All Lives Matter.

    You can help the family of George Floyd (including the daughter he left behind) by clicking the following link to donate: https://www.gofundme.com/f/gianna-floyd-daughter-of-george-floyd-fund . Don’t forget to reach out to your county and local government to get involved with working with legislators to make your city a safer place. Things only change when people like YOU have the courage to take a stand.

    I Attempted To Germinate Pineapple Seeds In A Jar

    Good Afternoon Fan Friends!

    This will be POST # 1 of the ‘Brittany tries to grow fruit plants at home’ series. Today I’m going to attempt to germinate pineapple seeds that are viable enough to pot in soil. Pineapples are probably the most slow growing plant but also probably one of the most hardiest to care for. They don’t always fruit right away and can take up to 5 years before they start barring anything truly edible. They are a rather tropical and good looking plant to have around. Since I am not exactly trying to grow a pineapple per say, I don’t mind waiting and in the event that one did so happened to bloom I’d happily enjoy the ‘fruits of my labor’-pun intended.

    Giving just a little bit of background on myself as a gardener, I do not have a green thumb. In fact, everything I touch dies. A friend of mine raises aloe plants as well as a variety of other plants. When Tom and I helped she and her husband move, she took it upon herself to gift me this little baby aloe plant. I am a serial plant killer, it’s not that I try to kill them but I can follow care directions by the book and still have it dead as a door nail within a week of its arrival to my window sill. Despite my rather desperate pleas to not take it, my adamant testimony that it would probably die in my care, my friend did not budge on her stance of gifting me with the baby aloe plant. She told me, quite plainly, that not even I can kill the hearty aloe plant. I’d literally have to overwater it to kill it. A plant I didn’t have to remember to water daily? Sign me up! I figured I’d give it a go and flash forward to today, I can proudly say I have actually kept that plant alive for three years. Not bad for the girl that kills plants faster than directions say they will flourish in!

    My aloe plant

    Granted, while my aloe plant is still a little small, (I only recently re-potted it), it is fairly easy to care for. I only have to remember to water it once, maybe twice, a month in the summer and as long as I am making sure it is in a place where it’s getting plenty of sunlight it pretty much thrives all year long-without much assistance from me. Unfortunately for me, the fact that I have actually kept this plant alive for as long as I did gave me confidence to try something a little more complicated-this could be a good thing or bad thing.

    Before we delve into the how let’s talk about the what pineapples really are besides a delicious snack. Pineapples are a tropical herbaceous perennial belonging to the bromeliad family. Basically they can grow to about an inch shorter than me at 5’1 putting them at approximately 5 feet in height and 3-4 feet in spread. Believe it or not pineapples were once a delicacy afforded only to the very wealthy in Europe during the 1700s.

    What I found most fascinating to learn about these plants is how growing them is very simple. They have extremely tough leaves which lose little water through evaporation. They also have small root systems ( much like other bromeliads), and are not fussy about the quality or quantity of their soil. Anyone who really knows me knows that I despise a needy and picky plant. It absolutely broke all preconceived notion’s that I had regarding my ability to successfully grow one. 

    Since they’re not picky and have small roots, they tend to make excellent container grown plants, this is especially awesome for those of us (like me) whose climate is less than tropical. If you do live in a warmer region, kudos to you because growing pineapple plants in the garden is a match made in heaven that you should at least try once.

    After researching just how easy they were and how many people were able to keep these bromeliads in various climates I had to wonder: Were pineapples the hip new houseplants for amateur gardeners without green thumbs?

    I got my seeds from a store bought pre-sliced pineapple, so the way I see it as whether or not they grow might not have anything to do with how well I follow directions. The seeds just might not be viable, in which case, I’ll try the other more popular method of growing a pineapple from cutting off the crown section and potting it in soil.

    Please note that I will be doing an update once a month on how my seeds are doing. I have no guarantee that this will work I am simply trying something a little unorthodox. Typically, much like the lima beans I would grow when I was in elementary school, this could be done by taking a wet paper towel and placing the seeds inside a zip lock airtight bag. However the idea of waiting three months with a moist paper towel that can easily mold inside a bag, inside my house, didn’t really appeal to me. So I did what any ordinary girl in the 21st-century would do, I went on YouTube. 

    I stumbled upon a YouTube video by Diane Mumm Garden Videos. In the video ‘How to Plant Pineapple Seeds-grow pineapple from seed’, Diane tries three popular methods for germination. The first batch of seeds she simply planted in soil, the second she placed the seeds in a jar and the third batch she did via the wet paper towel route. Diane did regular updates and it turns out her most successful batch was the ones grown or rather germinated in a mason jar. Without getting into too much detail, you can watch the video yourself here:WATCH Diane’s video HERE!

    The method I am going to write about today showed that more productive process. Since Diane found that after trying all three methods the mason jar method worked the best, I figured it would cost me nothing to give it a whirl. It’s important to note, that I may not have anything to plant until September. As I may have previously mentioned, pineapple plants take forever to germinate (as well as fruit) so if patience isn’t your forte, you might want to sit this one out. 

    Before we begin, please note my new DISCLAIMER page, by accessing this website you are AGREEING to the terms listed. The step-by-step method I am providing is not guaranteed to work and you should therefore always do your own independent research before trying it yourself at home. Also please note: I am not a gardener but there are plenty of talented and fabulous Youtubers who are excellent gardeners that can answer any questions that you have. Now that that’s out of the way, here’s what you’ll need:

    1. A Mason Jar

    2. Pineapple Seeds

    3. Water

    4. Plastic wrap

    Most people suggest growing a pineapple from the crown, however this seed method is also, while time consuming, affective from what I’ve seen in Diane’s videos. First thing that I did was I pulled the seeds out of the fruit. When I cut up my pineapple, I took notice of the little (blackish brown in color) dots imbedded in the fruit. These are the seeds so I plucked them out and set them aside.

    Once I finished enjoying my snack, I rinsed off the seeds so that they were no longer sticky.  I found this to be a very important step because I did not want to attract fruit flies or gnats by allowing them to smell the sweetness of my pineapple seeds. 

    Next, I set aside a clean mason jar. It can be any size as long as it allows ample room for your seeds to germinate. The mason jar I used was medium sized.

    Once I had my seeds and mason jar it was time to begin the next step. I placed just a little bit of water at the bottom of the mason jar. I was careful not to use too much as I did not want my seeds swimming or floating around in too much water. Next, I dropped my seeds in, covered the top with plastic wrap, and tilted the jar on its side, gently rolling it. Being careful not to tilt it too much, I did not want any water escaping. I made sure to tilt it until I felt the seeds were spread out, the purpose of this is to avoid having seeds germinate too closely together.

    Finally, I placed my jar in a place where it will get plenty of sunlight. I recommend doing this in the summer months because pineapple plants are tropical fruits and therefore thrive best in the summer. During the winter months it is advised to keep them in a sunlit area in a room where the temperature does not drop below 50°. 

    Within three months, I should begin to see my seeds begin to sprout. When this happens, I can transfer my seeds to soil. I will be sure to document the next step, providing that mine actually achieve germination. As with anything else, gardening takes practice. It’s trial and error type experience. While I do not have the answer yet to the question I posed earlier in this post, I am convinced I will have one within the next year. I’ll either be successfully enjoying a beautiful indoor pineapple plant or writing about what a failure these processes were for me- there’s no in between when it comes to plants.

    As I mentioned before, I do not have the best of luck with plants so therefore I tend to grow ordinary, non fussy, low maintenance plants that are not extremely complicated and complex. While the chances of me actually killing the seeds before they can germinate are also very high, my aloe plant has given me the confidence in wanting to try to grow different fruit plants just too see just how easy it is to do at home. Some of the plants I talk about in this series may die and some of them may thrive. The point of this series will be to show you, the reader, what you can and can’t grow if you have a brown thumb like I do.

    Right now, the weather in my part of the globe is very warm and humid so I will be sure to document whether or not I feel this was the best way for someone with little to no gardening experience to grow a pineapple plant. As mentioned, I will also be trying the other method of growing a pineapple from the crown. During this time and at the end of the summer I will be able to, based off of my own experiences, tell you which method I feel works best. As mentioned in my disclaimer it is important before trying this at home that you do your own research what works for me might not work for you and that is OK. Finding your own method is key to finding success with your plants.

    Have you ever tried growing fruit plants at home? Leave a comment below and join the conversation! I love to hear from each and every one of you.

    In Loving Memory of Chloe Dawn Hackett ♥️

    Good Afternoon Fan Friends,

    In the Broadway Musical ‘Wicked‘,made famous by Kristen Chenoweth and Idina Menzel as Glinda the Good and Elphaba the Wicked Witch of the West, the song ‘For Good’ is a powerful and poignant song which highlights that despite the urgency of both iconic characters needing to go their separate ways they had been changed “for good” just by knowing each other. Chenoweth famously begins the tune:

    “I’ve heard it said, that people come into our lives for a reason. Bringing something we must learn. And we are led to those, who help us most to grow if we let them. And we help them in return. Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true, but I know I’m who I am today because I knew you.”-Wicked

    While Glinda isn’t so sure of her belief in fate she does acknowledge that the time she spent learning and growing beside her friend significantly impacted her for the better. This leads me to ask: Where’s the line between the people who change our lives for the better and family pets who are like people that change our lives and hearts for good?

    The biggest line between our human companions and our furry ones is that humans are all flawed. Human nature is to disappoint or fall short of expectations and sometimes hurt sometimes without ever meaning to. It’s as the age old saying goes:

    To err is human, to forgive divine. All people commit sins and make mistakes. God forgives them, and people are acting in a godlike (divine) way when they forgive-Alexander Pope

    Furry companions do this and more for us. They love us humans even when we fall short of perfection. They love us: unconditionally, completely and Christlike. They forgive us without question, even when we’re short sighted and short tempered, but above all they love us. They love us completely even when we’re hard to love and that is why their lifespans are significantly shorter than our own.

    Our canine and feline companions are born with that hard wired ability to be loving, merciful and compassionate. Who but the family furry friend will share in our daily life: the joys, the excitements, the sadness and disappointments? Most human beings spend their entire life learning through blessings and lessons how to get closer to God by being selfless, loyal, loving and compassionate but our furry friends and family members already know how to do these things. Jesus calls us all to “love one another as I have loved you” but it’s animals that have mastered that particular skill not the humans who were given dominion over them. Ironic, isn’t it?

    Many a woman and man have said, ‘I hope to be half the person my (dog/cat) thinks I am.’ I think that is because although they live significantly shorter lives than ours, while they are here they make us want to be better people. I believe sincerely that people who say, “it’s just a dog” or “it’s just a cat” need that type of love from us the most. Throughout my 12 year relationship (4 of which I spent married) with my husband, we have been told when we expressed our desire to raise dogs over children that we, “don’t know unconditional love until you know the love you’ll hold for your child” to this I usually smile, sheepishly and say, “Have you ever known the love of a dog? Because God spelt backwards is Dog and that unconditional love they have in their hearts of us is the closest thing we’ll get to Christ on Earth.”

    I’ve read about tragedies in the paper of children growing up to kill their parents and sometimes parents who kill their children but I’ve never read about a dog who killed their owner. I have read about dogs who got put down for protecting their owners. These stories get me crying every time. There’s only one person who loves us at our worst and would lay down their lives for us other than our fur angels and his name is Jesus Christ.

    We can stand to learn a lot from the furry companions we open our homes and hearts to if we just: Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.

    Teaching preschool for 9 1/2 years I imagine the world would be much different if our school teachers were dogs. You’d learn valuable lessons like:

    ▪️Always running to greet your loved ones when they get home.

    ▪️Never passing up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

    ▪️Allowing the experience of fresh air, long walks and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.

    ▪️Taking naps.

    ▪️Stretching before rising.

    ▪️Running, romping, and playing daily.

    ▪️Thriving on attention and affection.

    ▪️Avoiding biting when a simple growl will do.

    ▪️On warm days, stopping to lie on your back on the grass.

    ▪️On hot days, drinking lots of water and laying under a shady tree.

    ▪️When you’re happy, dancing around and wag your entire body.

    ▪️Delighting in the simple of being around those you love.

    ▪️Being faithful.

    ▪️Never pretending to be something you’re not.

    ▪️Knowing that if what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

    ▪️When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.

    That’s the secret of happiness that we can learn from a good dog-which is why when I got the heart wrenching text from my Father yesterday evening that they were making the difficult decision to put down our furry family member for the last nearly 13 years-I crumbled to the floor and ugly cried until no more tears could fall.

    My husband and I (with my Parents’ blessing) drove that 30 minute drive to my family home where I grew up and said goodbye to a dog who’d given me the kind of love, loyalty and devotion I could only hope I repaid in even a fraction of the same way. For that entire drive, her whole 12 1/2 years of life flashed before my eyes: memories of the crying puppy that I fell asleep on a cold tile floor to snuggle, a playful adolescent who would play fetch, snuggle on the couch, and comfort me through all of life’s beautiful and dark moments and finally even the old senior who although tired still managed to trot up to the door to give me attention and love.

    Before I left last night, I didn’t say goodbye. I said I’ll see you soon, because time in heaven works differently than here on Earth. I’m confident she’ll be able to plead my case and get me into heaven one day, when my work here is done to be reunited with her for eternity.

    This morning, it was with a very heavy heart that my family and I announced that our beloved Chloe Dawn Hackett died peacefully, alongside her family of nearly 13 years. On this day, Friday, May 22nd 2020, under the care of the Ocean County Veterinary Hospital staff, heaven gained an exceptionally beautiful, loving, furry angel.

    Chloe was brought into this world October 31st 2007 and became a valued member of our family in January of 2008, she quickly became our daughter, little sister and ultimately a dog legends are made of. Chloe arrived in our home with the ability to make herself completely comfortable by playfully tormenting her big fur brother Chase. Having the energy of an F5 tornado and barking ferociously at any animal or person that intruded on her turf, Chloe quickly began building loving relationships with all those who came in contact with her, whether it be family or friends. She was loving, loyal, and wouldn’t hesitate to yell at me whenever I had to leave home for long periods of time. She was the first to greet and the last to see me off.

    A lover of dog beds and stuffed animals, Chloe had many hobbies. Some of Chloe’s favorite activities included barking at things not there, cuddling alongside you, comforting you when you were happy or sad, playing tug of war and fetch, and trying to figure out who exactly was “the good girl.” In her spare time, Chloe dreamt violently, thrashing her legs, presumably chasing those asshole squirrels who dared enter her dreams. The quickest way to Chloe’s heart was with a quality scratch of her rear, and a shake of her paw.

    Chloe Dawn will be greatly missed by many, but none more so than her loving family. Through thick and thin, we loved her with all our hearts, and though the pain we’re feeling without her here is great, it in no way would compare to having never had her in our lives. Chloe Dawn leaves behind her lovingly devoted Mom and Dad, Liz and Joe Hackett, an older sister, Brittany Schmidt (Hackett), a Brother in Law Thomas Schmidt, and a big brother who held her in his arms until the very end Joseph Hackett; predeceased by her Grammy, Mary Doyle; her big fur brothers Petie and Chase; Uncles Tommy and Jimbo; and many amazing family members and friends throughout the years.

    While it well may be, that I will never see my Chloe girl again in this lifetime, it needs to be said that so much of me is made of what I learned from her and she’ll be with me like a paw print on my heart. All the pain, the sorrow and profound sense of loss is worth it because, much like most parents can say for their children, I can honestly say: you just don’t know the depth of true unconditional love until you’ve shared your home, bed, snack and heart with a dog or cat.

    This post was shared and written in memory of Chloe Dawn Hackett:


    “Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord,

    and let perpetual light shine upon her.

    May she rest in peace.


    The Best Kept Secrets About Simple Ways To Cosmetically Fixing Up Your Home

    The listing photo for my home pre-purchased

    Buying your first home is probably the most exciting feeling in the world. If you’re anything like me, you have a vision for what each room will look like that’s straight out of the “For Home” ideas you’ve pinned on Pinterest. As time goes on you realize it takes time to do these things and unless your name is David Tepper and you own the Carolina Panthers you probably aren’t fixing things up as quickly as you think.

    What we had to start with…

    Just because you aren’t Rockefeller, it doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to cosmetically fix little things that can make a huge difference in upping the resale value of your home. We took that drab yellow color and painted it my FAVORITE paint of all time: Sherwin Williams in ‘Sea Salt’. Just the paint job itself brightened up the kitchen and gave it relaxing vibes.

    It’s no secret my little family and I plan on relocating to the Carolinas in the not so distant future. Baring all other obstacles are met: finding a job, a town that fits the vibe of what we’re looking for, and of course building our dream home I look forward to taking you on our journey with us! There’s still so much to be done around here before we can move on to phase 2. Which makes me wonder: If beauty is in the eye of the beholder could otherwise budget conscious individuals still get top dollar without breaking the bank, more importantly exactly how powerful is curb appeal and cosmetic beauty in the eye of the potential buyer?

    I set out to find just how to make the most out of a limited budget and I think you all will be pleasantly surprised with how you can fix up a kitchen for under $200.00! Cosmetic fixes, as I mentioned in my earlier post where I transformed my living room, can be the easiest fix when it comes to fixing up your space. Never underestimate the power of a good paint job, so when it came time to fix up my kitchen I knew just a few little cosmetic nip and tucks could make a huge difference in the future resale of my home.

    Here’s a BEFORE picture of my kitchen as well as my checklist for what I felt the kitchen really needed to regain its identity and character:

    As you can see from the picture, the kitchen situation we inherited wasn’t ideal. The dated, broken cabinets, tired looking beige stove hood and countertops gave this kitchen a rather deteriorated vibe which was in fierce contrast to all of the updating and bringing into the 21st century we’ve done. What I proposed to Tom was to fix these cabinets’ doors and give them a much needed facelift with some grey paint. I also wanted to replace that MUCH DATED stove hood and give the countertops a new lease at shelf life with some wax. The labor was FREE because we did it ourselves so bare that in mind that your total cost will probably reflect in your decision to DIY or have someone come to do it for you.

    Our Checklist and Pricing Estimate:

    ▪️Paint (tax included) comes to $42.00

    ▪️Roller for cabinets comes to $8.00

    ▪️Hinges in fixing lazy Susan and pantry cabinet comes to $12.00

    ▪️Glosser (tax included) comes to $9.00

    ▪️Wax (tax included) comes to $5.00

    ▪️New Stove Hood (tax included) comes to $49.00

    ▪️Bringing the GRAND TOTAL to: $125.00▪️

    Aside from the cost of supplies, the manual labor when spread out took us a total of 21 hours. This included restoring the cabinets to their former glory, using two coats of paint and gloss, as well as replacing the stove hood and waxing countertops. That said, it was all worth it when you see the outcome in these AFTER pictures:

    As you can see, when it comes to simple cosmetic fixes, a little bit goes a really long way! Would you believe me at all if I told you these cabinets are the same cabinets in the before picture? We took these tired, off-white cabinets and fixed all the doors (some of which were pulled off and missing when we moved in!) before we painted them a cool neutral gray to give them a new and refreshed look. We plan on adding some knobs to give them an overall brand new look, I’ll add an updated picture to this post so keep checking back in the next few weeks to see how that turns out. We also took the beat up beige stove hood and replaced it with a sleek black stove hood to compliment the black and stainless steel stove. Finally, we waxed the countertops to give them a glossier, fresh, new finish.

    I really hope this post helped for any of you who are looking to up the resale value of your home without breaking the bank. Please feel free to leave a comment below, and don’t forget to hit that follow button so you don’t miss any future posts!

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