Friday, October 28, 2022

Adagio Bees - new Honey from the Adagio Tea company

Complimentary honey samplers were provided by Adagio Tea for me to try and share my experience.
A while back, I noticed that Adagio Teas had expanded their product offering to include honey. I was intrigued. As with tea, there was a time where honey was not high on my list but over the years, I had come to enjoy honey as an addition to my tea. Then, this summer, I bought some Vanilla Honey coffee pods and there was something so soothing about that flavor and aroma.
I started by exploring their site. They offer several options for jars of honey and sampler sets to let you try the different varieties and styles.

They currently offer 5 varieties of tea honey. Sold by the jar, these raw honeys were specifically selected for use in different tea varieties.

tea honey
Honey has long been a source for sweetening a variety of foods and beverages for over 10,000 years. The sweet nectar has also been used for medicinal purposes, served as currency, and been a symbol in many religious and cultural celebrations. Each offers the promise of making your cup of tea just a little bit sweeter. Glass jars. Made in the USA.

They also offer 11 varieties of raw honey by the jar.
raw honey
Honey, one of the world's oldest sweeteners, comes from flower nectar that has been consumed by the honey bee. Known as the "nectar of the gods" as far back as 5,000 years ago it was used for medicinal purposes, in cooking, and as a preservative in cosmetics, soaps, and even the beeswax has been used for candles. Our raw honey is packaged without the use of high temperatures to provide as close to the experience of heating out of the hive as possible- positively irresistable!

The third variety that they offer is whipped honey, in 3 varieties.
whipped honey
Whipped Honey (also known as creamed honey, cream honey, honey butter, honey spread, granulated honey or shipped honey) is the most popular state of honey in Europe. Whipped Honey is honey where a slow and controlled crystallization process has taken place. With controlled temperature and large sugar crystal size, the result is a spreadable honey with a silky mouth feel, almost marshmallow-like! This delicious honey that has earned its place on the breakfast table. Spread it on toast or eat right off the spoon!

After reading through all the descriptions of the varieties, I couldn't choose just one to try and decided to try the samplers.
Isn't that box awesome. Check out the side of it, I would be lying if I didn't do more than one double-take thinking there was a bee crawling on the box.
Here you can see the varieties that came in my sampler boxes:

The weekend the samples arrived, I had made biscuits for sausage gravy and decided that it was the perfect vehicle to start to taste some of the honey. I really liked how smooth the honey was on my palate. It was sweet but didn't have any of that too sweet flavor that I had at time experienced with my normal squeeze jar of honey. It also seemed to be a slightly thinner texture, which I think worked really well for enjoying it on the biscuit. I was able to taste the notes and differences in the different varieties of honey.

Also on that day, I tried the two whipped varieties as well. The whipped cinnamon honey had a terrific balance of sweet honey and cinnamon, reminding me in flavor of the mixture that I put on Cinnamon Sugar toast but without the bite that you get from the sugar crystals. It was really strange to me to get that flavor without that bite. I enjoyed it though. The chocolate was also good, although the ratio of honey to chocolate seemed pretty even and I would have preferred more of the chocoalte flavor coming through.

Over the next few weeks, I enjoyed the different honeys in my tea. It was interesting to try the tea varieites in the tea style they were selected for. Then, most recently, I enjoyed the Tupelo Raw Honey in my coffee with a bit of vanilla cream, helping to bring back the falvors from the coffee that I enjoyed this summer. I don't tend to sweeten my coffee (outside of the sweetness from the cream) but it definitely was a nice treat to have a sweet honey and vanilla coffee in the early afternoon (with a few vanilla wafers on the side).

I really enjoyed the honey. I really like that they come in glass jars, make them easy to store and serve. I would recommend that if you enjoy honey in your tea, on your biscuits or just on it's own that you give Adagio Bees honey a try. The samplers are a great way to check out several varieties at once.

Have you tried Adagio Bees honey? Have you tried whipped honey before? What is your favorite?

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. Complimentary product was provided for my review.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Game Night - featuring Telestrations and Blank Slate #theOPgames #telestrations #blankslate #boardgames #Tryazon

Complimentary copies of Telestrations and Blank Slate games were provided to me through Tryazon so that I could share them with friends and through my blog. All opinions expressed are my own

At my house, we have enjoyed playing many of the OP games that we have come across. So, when Tryazon sent me an invite to apply for a Game Night featuring two of our favorite games, I was excited to apply and hoped to get the chance to participate and share the games with more friends. This game night party kit came with two games: Telestrations and Blank Slate. We have been playing Telestrations for several years, ever since one of our friends recommendimg we check it out at a game night and we have been playing Blank Slate for a few years, since getting it one Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, it always feels a bit like Christmas to me when the party pack arrives. I enjoy unboxing it and seeing what all we got in the party pack.
The initial reveal:

After unpacking:

Once we had the games, all that remained was having friends over and introducing them to two of our favorite games.

Description: The outrageously fun party game Telestrations will keep your family and friends entertained and laughing! Draw what you see then guess what you saw for hilarious and unpredictable outcomes.

Casual, family, party and strategy gamers alike all agree that Telestrations is one of the top 10 board games to add to their game collection, and game night. It’s an engaging game that can be played over and over with many different ages and types of groups and gatherings – it’s the perfect group game for game night!

The award-winning game Telestrations will keep your family and friends entertained and laughing! Draw what you see then guess what you saw for hilarious and unpredictable outcomes. Over 1,700 words, 8 erasable sketch books, 8 dry erase markers, and 8 clean-up cloths. Perfect for families, small parties, and friends new and old. A great ice breaker! No Drawing Skills Required. Stick figures & sense of humor welcome! Ages 12+. For 4-8 players. Play time: 10-15 minutes per round.

Telestrations combines classic drawing games with the age old game of Telephone. This is one game where laughter ensues with each reveal of the sequence from original clue through a few iterations of drawings and guesses. Sometimes we have clues that make it through 'intact' but most of the time there is a definite evolution to the guesses and drawings. As with the classic Telephone game, the miscommunication of guessing the drawing leads to some wild departures from the original clue. We love how it can be played by any age group. Our kids can play with their friends, we can play with our friends, and we can also all play together. We have found that with an all adult group there are a few more adult themed guesses and drawings (even though everyone knows the initial clues are not adult themed since we don't have the 'after dark' version of the game). The original version is intended for 8 players but they also offer a 6 player and 12 player version of the game. The difference is the number of iterations that your original clues go through before returning to you - the more iterations the broader the departure. There is also an 80s and 90s expansion pack (featuring decades-inspired words and phrases that will have you sketching out the tunes, fads, and fashion from the end of the 20th century) available for more clues. We don't own this one but would be a great game for us to play with our friends (I assume that the kids might not get all of the clues, having not lived through those years). Since we already had a copy of the original game, we shared this gift with a friend so that they could enjoy the fun with their family and friends.
Blank Slate
Description: TPick one of over 250 Word Cue cards (with 500 total cues), write the word you think best completes the phrase - and try to match it exactly to another player's word without giving a single hint.

If you're looking out for something new to introduce to the family, then the Blank Slate Board Game is your best bet. This fun game comes with 8 slates, markers and 250 double-sided cue cards. The objective is to complete phrases with any word, but you score points for matching your word with any one other player. The rules are simple to understand and each match lasts only up to 30 minutes, so you know this game is going to be the new favorite with the family.

Game night is always a hit with Blank Slate - just ask Ryan Seacrest or Bobby Bones! Blank Slate game is featured on AT40 with Ryan Seacrest and The Bobby Bones Show - fans love it!

Blank Slate is a fun game. There is a certain strategy to try to match one and only one other answer. You need a word to fill in the blank that is obvious but not too obvious. I will say that it does help if you have connections with the people you are playing with, as those common experiences are often the source of the best answers. This game is great for all ages and you don't need to have any specific knowledge to play (everyone knows words and phrases). The game plays quickly, allowing you to play multiple rounds in a few hours (and crowning your winner based on best of 5 or 7). Since we already had a copy of Blank Slate, I shared the new one with some party guests.

What are some of your favorite games for family game night? or game night with friends? Have you played Telestrations or Blank Slate before? What did you think?

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family and friends. Complimentary copies of the games were provided to me through Tryazon so that I could share my experience with friends and through my blog, with enough to share some with my friends too.

Friday, October 7, 2022

The Winemaker's Wife by Kristin Harmel

I learn about books in many different places. I am subscribed to author's and publisher's newsletters, I follow several authors on social media and each week I also check in on What Are You Reading Wednesday with a local library. Through these different modes, I often hear about books that pique my interest. That was the case with the book that I just finished reading, The Winemaker's Wife by Kristin Harmel. I read a little blurb about it and put a hold on it through the library.

As with a few books that I have read recently, there were two timelines and a few points of view used to tell the story. The first timeline was in the Champagne region of France during World War II and during modern time in New York and France. One thing that I like about the combination of then and now timelines is that it allows the reader to learn both the details of the story from a time long ago but also gain perspective on how things resolve with the perspective of the current timeline. The characters are well developed and generally, likeable. I found myself feeling bad for them during struggles, outraged by their behavior at other times and genuinely vested in their story and their outcome. Another element that I enjoyed about this book were the unexpected twists. I did start to wonder about the one twist about half way through the story but the other twist caught me by complete surprise (can't tell you what they were, that would ruin it).

About the book:
The Winemaker's Wife

The author of the “engrossing” (People) international bestseller The Room on Rue Amélie returns with a moving story set amid the champagne vineyards of France during the darkest days of World War II, perfect for fans of Heather Morris’s The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

Champagne, 1940: Inès has just married Michel, the owner of storied champagne house Maison Chauveau, when the Germans invade. As the danger mounts, Michel turns his back on his marriage to begin hiding munitions for the Résistance. Inès fears they’ll be exposed, but for Céline, the French-Jewish wife of Chauveau’s chef de cave, the risk is even greater—rumors abound of Jews being shipped east to an unspeakable fate.

When Céline recklessly follows her heart in one desperate bid for happiness, and Inès makes a dangerous mistake with a Nazi collaborator, they risk the lives of those they love—and the vineyard that ties them together.

New York, 2019: Recently divorced, Liv Kent is at rock bottom when her feisty, eccentric French grandmother shows up unannounced, insisting on a trip to France. But the older woman has an ulterior motive—and a tragic, decades-old story to share. When past and present finally collide, Liv finds herself on a road to salvation that leads right to the caves of the Maison Chauveau.

About Kristin Harmel:

Kristin Harmel is the New York Times bestselling, USA Todaybestselling, and #1 international bestselling author of The Forest of Vanishing Stars, The Book of Lost Names, The Winemaker’s Wife, and a dozen other novels that have been translated into more than 30 languages and are sold all over the world.

Kristin has been writing professionally since the age of 16, when she began her career as a sportswriter, covering Major League Baseball and NHL hockey for a local magazine in Tampa Bay, Florida in the late 1990s. In addition to a long magazine writing career, primarily writing and reporting for PEOPLE magazine (as well as articles published in American Baby, Men’s Health, Woman’s Day, Travel + Leisure, Ladies’ Home Journal, and more), Kristin was also a frequent contributor to the national television morning show The Daily Buzz.

Kristin was born just outside Boston, Massachusetts and spent her childhood there, as well as in Worthington, Ohio, and St. Petersburg, Florida. After graduating with a degree in journalism (with a minor in Spanish) from the University of Florida, she spent time living in Paris and Los Angeles and now lives in Orlando, with her husband and young son. She is also the co-founder and co-host of the popular weekly web show and podcast Friends & Fiction.

I really enjoyed this book by Kristin Harmel and would recommend it to friends (and actually already have). I plan to add her name on my author's to read list and will pick up some of her older books and watch for her new release planned for early next summer. I just started following her on social media and hope to check out the podcast that she does with three author friends. I checked upcoming events and see that I missed seeing her locally in the spring but will be on the watch for another local visit.

What have you been reading lately?

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Dinner Time (in less time)

Complimentary product was provided to me so that I could experience the products and share about them with friends and through my blog.

As a busy mom, the one thing that I have strived to maintain is sitting down together as a family for dinner. Some nights are easier than others and as the kids get older, and busier, I have not been successful in acheiving that goal every day. With both kids, my husband and myself being active, many nights to even have dinner together (and not spending a long time in the kitchen when we get home from everything) means jumping through a few hoops and definitely some meal planning. Now that it is the fall, my son is back at school, so there is one less schedule to juggle but still appreciate time savings to help orchestrate family meal time.

As I have shared before, one of the things that I have found really beneficial about meal planning is cooking once and eating two or three times. With the help of some prepared foods, this can really help with getting food on the table when the family is together.

I recently had the chance to try several of the Bob Evans Farms side dishes, which you can find in your local grocer's refrigerated section. We have enjoyed their Homestyle Mashed Potatoes for years but had not tried their other sides. I picked out Sliced Glazed Apples and a side of Macaroni and Cheese, as well as a familiar favorite Homestyle Mashed Potatoes on a recent shopping trip.

The Sliced Glazed Apples were a hit. I served them as a side with Pork Chops, Corn and the Home Style Mashed Potatoes. They were just the right touch to complete the meal, offering a nice balance of sweetness and a touch of spice. And let's be honest, nothing says fall like a warm, spicy apple, it was almost like having a pie or crisp without the crusts.
Of course, the mashed potatoes are a side we enjoy with the pan fried pork chops everytime I serve them. The warm, creaminess with just a touch of bite and made with real butter and milk, just like I make them, really gives them that homemade taste but ready in 6 minutes instead of the time it takes to peel, dice, boil and smash potatoes on my own. A definite time saver!

The Macaroni and Cheese, we enjoyed as a light meal. We added a bit of bacon to top the macaroni and cheese, a side salad and some rolls to make it a complete meal. The Macaroni and Cheese was a nice creamy, gooey dish with the macaroni having just enough bite and the six cheese blend providing the right balance of tanginess.

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family and friends. Complimentary coupons were provided to me to purchase the products of my choice, so that I could share my experience with friends and through my blog.

Monday, October 3, 2022

Game Night - featuring Venn and Hues and Cues #theOPgames #VENN #HuesAndCues #BringTheFun #Tryazon

Complimentary copies of Venn and Hues and Cues games were provided to me through Tryazon so that I could share them with friends and through my blog. All opinions expressed are my own

As I have shared before, Game Night has always been a favorite activity at our house. We have been fortunate to have many friends and family members that enjoy not only hanging out but also playing games. Our friends have introduced us to many games and we have introduced them to many games. There always seems to be a new game to play but we still try to make time for favorites. As with any good gathering, we enjoy an assortment of snacks and always have a good time. We compete and we laugh and we genuinely enjoy the time together. When we started hosting, we had little kids and would often start around bedtime so that the kids would be sleeping through most of the time but now that they are teenagers, they often times will join in for the games too, whether with us or at their own game table with their friends.

We have enjoyed playing many of the OP games that we have come across, so when I see that there is a new game out, I am always intersted to learn more. So, when Tryazon sent me a message inviting me to apply for the Venn Game Night, I was excited to check it out. The party kit came with two games, Venn and Hues and Cues. Venn was new to us but we have owned Hues and Cues for a while now.

Description: Introducing VENN, a clever game where clues and art overlap! Race to find three secret words based on where a Clue Giver arranges unique Art Cards onto color circles. Set a timer or outguess the others to find the similarities, come to the right conclusions, and win! Go head-to-head as teams or work together through cooperative gameplay in this hands-on communication game that mixes friendly competition and fun.

Venn is an interesting game that requires creative thinking, a skill that sometimes I think we don't always get the chance to develop. It can be played competitively or cooperatively. I like this because I find that the cooperative play is an easier way to learn the game and a great way to play as a family, especially with younger kids. The concept of finding art work that applies to one, two or three of the words on your card is a fun way to get your teammates to guess the words. It did take a little while to figure out some people's thought process but with time, being able to guess became a little easier.
Hues and Cues
Description: Test your color knowledge and guessing abilities with Hues and Cues – a vibrant group party game of colorful communication where players are challenged to make connections to colors with words. Using only one and two-word cues, players try to get others to guess a specific hue from the 480 colors squares on the unique game board . The player with the most points after several rounds wins the game!

Hues and Cues is a fun game. It is helpful if you are familiar with context for your clue giver's clues. As an example, when the color card has a shade of blue and the clue giver says Cinderella for their word. If you don't know that Cinderella wears a blue dress or aren't familiar with which princess is which, then you might be guessing a shade of pink or yellow. We also discussed that for those that are color blind, it would also be quite a challenge. They can often differentiate shades but certainly aren't going to be as succesful with the nuances of the colors on the board. Since we already had a copy, I shared the new one with my brother and his family.

You can find more information on The Op or purchase your own copy of the games HERE.

What are some of your favorite games for family game night? or game night with friends? Have you played Venn or Hues and Cues before? What did you think?

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family and friends. Complimentary copies of the games were provided to me through Tryazon so that I could share my experience with friends and through my blog, with enough to share some with my friends too.