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Homemade Trail Mix

Recently I wrote about new dispensers at some Mrs. Green’s locations here in the Northeast. They hold dried fruit, granola, beans, nuts, seeds, and more. On my most recent visit I grabbed several ingredients in an attempt my make my own trail mix and I think I perfected it this week :

LT’s Trail Mix
Cranberries
Currants
Coconut Flakes
Chocolate Chips
Salted Nuts
Granola
Pumpkin Seeds

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The cranberries and currants give it a nice sweet flavor and the nuts and granola balance out the fruit’s soft texture with a crunch. If you ever find yourself craving something portable and new for a hike or even just for your desk at work, give it a shot!

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Creative Routines

The other day I discovered a chart called “Creative Routines” which showed the daily rituals of some of the most creative people in recent history. You can view it in large form here.

daily-rituals

At first glance you’ll notice how much “Primary Work” and “Social & Meal” time is listed, at least I did. I then decided to make one of my own to see what may daily weekday ritual is like:

Daily-Routine-for-web

Left : Legend.
Right : My daily weekday schedule.

 

Sleep : 11PM to 8AM
Pack Lunch then Commute : 8AM to 10:30AM
Work : 10:30AM  to 2PM
Lunch : 2PM to 3PM
Work : 3PM to 6:30PM
Commute : 6:30PM to 8:30PM
Dinner and Social : 8:30PM to 11PM

I portrayed commuting as “other work” and reaffirmed that I do that way too much. Ugh… I also need to get some blue in there, which I only do on the weekends. Last year I finally started eating breakfast, which I now do by drinking a smoothie and eating an apple as I start my workday. Well, now I know where I spend all my time!

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Cold Spring Hike

Yesterday Kay and I went on a short hike in Cold Spring after checking out a neat Farmer’s Market that was going on in town. We followed the Cornish and Brook Trails (Blue and Red) and saw some really cool foundations along the way. The trail follows an old road through the former estate of Edward G. Cornish, chairman of the board of the National Lead Company. You can see some pictures I took here.

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Splinters in Your Eye

One day an evil troll (called the devil) made a magic mirror that distorts the appearance of everything it reflects. It fails to reflect the good and beautiful aspects of people and things, while magnifying their bad and ugly aspects. This devil teaches at a “devil school.” He and his pupils take the mirror throughout the world and delight in distorting everyone and everything. The mirror makes even the loveliest of landscapes look disgusting.

One morning they try to carry the mirror into Heaven with the idea of making fools of the angels and God, but the higher they lift it, the more the mirror grins and shakes with delight. It slips from their grasp and falls back to earth, shattering into millions of pieces. These splinters, some no larger than a grain of sand, are blown around and get into people’s eyes and hearts, freezing their hearts like blocks of ice and making their eyes like the troll-mirror itself, seeing only the bad and ugly in people and things.

On a pleasant summer day, a little girl and boy who live next door to each other were looking at a picture book in their window-box garden when suddenly splinters of the troll-mirror get into the boy’s eyes. The boy becomes cruel and aggressive. He destroys their window-box garden, he makes fun of his grandmother, and he no longer cares about the girl who he befriended for so long, since all of them now appear bad and ugly to him.

The following winter, the boy goes out with his sled to play in the snowy market square and (as was the custom back then) hitches it to a curious white sleigh carriage, driven by the Snow Queen, who appears as a woman in a white fur-coat. She takes the boy in her sleigh to her palace near the North Pole, where he is contented to live due to the splinters of the troll-mirror in his eyes and heart.

The little girl, who misses her friend so much, travels the land in search of her long-lost friend. When the young girl reaches the Snow Queen’s palace, she is halted by the snowflakes guarding it. She finds her friend alone and almost immobile on a frozen lake, which the Snow Queen calls the “Mirror of Reason”, on which her throne sits.

The young girl runs up to the boy and kisses him, and he is saved by the power of her love. She weeps warm tears on him, melting his heart and burning away the troll-mirror splinter in it. They boy bursts into tears, dislodging the splinter from his eye. He becomes cheerful and healthy again, with sparkling eyes and rosy cheeks.

From there they walk back to their home, “the big city.” They find that all is the same at home, but they have changed: They are now grown up, and they are delighted to see that it is summertime.

The end.

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That is a very brief synopsis of the fairy tale “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen, to which Disney’s movie Frozen was based on. (Edited down from Wikipedia.) I found the premise of the Splinters to be very relevant to how some people are in society today. In almost everything and everyone you meet, you can see the good or bad in them. We all have a certain amount of splinter in our eyes, but if, whether as a society or as a couple, we can help remove the splinter from someone’s eye, we could make the world a much better place.

 

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Trivia : While the story deviates from the original fairy tale, four of the main characters’ names are references to the author Hans Christian Andersen: Hans, Kristoff, Anna, and Sven.

How to Track Amazon Prices

I recently started glancing at a website called CamelCamelCamel before making certain purchases online. It allows you to search for a product or paste an Amazon URL of the product into the search bar and find the price history of it. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on your opinion of the phrase “ignorance is bliss”.

I used this when researching a new running pack with hydration bladder (The Camelback Dart). I noticed the price dropped in the winter and rose again as spring came. I could either buy it now at full price or wait another season.

Dart

Let’s just say I kept myself hydrated on my last jog. ;)

On the other hand you may find a product you want, say, the RIO Glass Water Pitcher which I love and would like another one to take to work, but the price jumped from $22.01 to $29.95 and you’re not sure it’ll ever come back down.

rio

Do I suck it up and buy it, or wait hoping it comes back down? I could be waiting forever…

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Replace Sugary Drinks with a Fruit Infusion Pitcher

A few months back I bought this great 1 liter Water Pitcher and Drink Infuser from Grosche International. I found it on Amazon for $22, but since January 19th it’s gone up to $29.95.

It’s all glass with a stainless steel lid. The lid has a removable silicon bottom which mounts it to the glass bottle. As you tip the bottle (as if to pour) a filter in the lid slides allowing water (and only water) to come out. Right now my favorite new drink is pineapple water, although I haven’t experimented a lot yet. I’ll just toss in pineapple chunks, lemon wedges, strawberries, or other types of fruit. It’s an easy way to have naturally flavored water right at your fingertips. After about thirty minutes in the fridge the pitcher is ready to go. You can keep refilling it with water for days, depending on what kind of fruit it is. My pineapple chunks last about a week. Lemon wedges, about 3-4 days.

Since I’ve gotten this I have been drinking a lot more water. It has really helped me eliminate all of the nasty (yet admittedly tasty) sugary drinks I used to consume.

Home-made Juice

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Pregnant Peppers?

A few days ago I was making my favorite Sausage Gumbo and ran into this when slicing a Bell Pepper:

Inside Pepper1

Inside Pepper2

A baby pepper growing inside a mature one. Creepy but cool. After looking into it on the internet I found this, and this:

“During normal pepper development, seeds develop from fertilized structures known as ovules. Peppers have many ovules, which turn into lots of tiny, obnoxious seeds. Occasionally, a pepper ovule will go rogue and start developing into a so-called “internal proliferation” …that looks much more like a tiny pepper than a seed.”

and lastly:

“Understanding what gives rise to these strange baby peppers could actually help us figure out how to make seedless (parthenocarpic) pepper varieties. You can already thank parthenocarpy for the lack of big, nasty seeds in bananas and several types of oranges. Maybe seedless peppers will be next!”

Who knew bananas used to have big nasty seeds?

For a cool MRI scan of a pregnant bell pepper (and other food) check this out.

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Your Real Tax Rate

This year I filed both federal and state returns through H&R Block on February 17th. By February 26th my federal return was in my bank account. Pretty awesome.

While glancing at the “Overall Savings” section of the PDF I saved to my computer I noticed something:

Marginal bracket : 25%
Effective : 8.6%

I’m supposed to be giving 25% of my income to the federal government to pay for things we as a society need: Social Security, Veteran’s Benefits, Infrastructure Spending, etc… whereas I’m only giving 8.6%. If I’m doing my taxes myself and getting that kind of a discount, imagine what the extremely wealthy are getting with their financial advisors. The same goes for my payments to New York State as well:

Marginal bracket : 5.6%
Effective : 4.4%

Not as bad as the Federal “discount” I’m getting, but still. For all those people complaining about how high our taxes are, just check out your Effective Tax Rate then get back to me.

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Are Mrs. Green’s Fruit, Nut, & Bean Dispensers Worth the Price?

Last weekend my Partner in Crime and I stopped at a Mrs. Green’s supermarket in Connecticut. The store looks brand new, and is huge compared to the smaller ones I live near. This location in Connecticut had installed Organic Fruit, Nut, and Grain dispensers on the right-hand side wall as you walk in. I was intrigued by the prices they had, wondering if they were a good deal compared to the organic kinds in bags or containers sold from other companies. Here are a few of my findings through a random sample:

Chia and Flax

Bags1

 

Mrs. Green’s Dispenser White Chia Seeds : $9.99 / lb
Shiloh Farm’s Bagged White Chia Seeds : $1.25 / oz     ($20 per pound)

Mrs. Green’s Dispenser White Quinoa : $5.99 / lb
Shiloh Farm’s Bagged White Quinoa :  $.50 / oz         ($8 per pound)

Mrs. Green’s Dispenser Brown Flax Seeds : $1.49 / lb
Shiloh Farm’s Bagged Brown Flax Seeds : $.31 / oz     ($4.96 per pound)

Seems like it’s worth it to me!

You may be thinking that the non-organic variety in the major supermarket chains are less, but that’s not necessarily the case. It really depends on which item you’re talking about. Mrs. Green’s sells organic pinto beans for $1.99 / lb whereas the Goya pinto beans in the A&P are $2.49 / lb!

Either way, my goal here is to eat healthier and remove as many toxic chemicals and pesticides as possible.

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