5 Great House Pets

Sure having a dog is nice, but what about other house pets? Not everyone is a cat person. And even then, some people like neither dog’s cats. Here are my five favorite pet animals. I hope this helps you in choosing a furry (or scaly or feathery) little friend.

Dogs

Yes, I did just say that dogs aren’t for everyone, but some people downright love them. The great thing about dogs is their variety. There is a dog for everyone. If you have a busy lifestyle and sometimes can’t be at home with your dog a lot, I recommend taking a more inactive dog, such as greyhound or whippet. Poodles are also a great choice here. Dogs such as English cocker spaniels and pugs are a good choice if they get proper training in order to keep them from ruining your relationship with your neighbors. If you have a more active lifestyle, more free time, a dog of the hunting variety will keep you up and about. If you have kids, a labrador retriever is a great choice as they are very compassionate and love to play.

Cats

If you dislike dogs, try taking a cat. The great thing about cats is that they are content to sit and laze the whole day. However, a piece of string can keep them entertained for a long while. Cats are nice as they don’t require active maintenance. Leave out food and water, and remember to empty their litter box, and you’re set to go. The only downside to cats is that their demeanors widely range. Some cats love being picked up and petted, while others will scratch your eyes out the moment their feet leave the ground. Kittens, however, tend to like to cuddle and are a great choice for small children.

Turtles

The ultimate stress-free pet. Course, they may not be amazingly fun to play with, but I still like to have them around. Turtles are more fun to observe and watch. As such, they make great pets for kids, so long as the children know not to put them in their mouths. Give your turtle a block or ball or drop something in their tank and observe as they are fascinated with their newfound plaything.

Birds

Birds make great pets. They can be very social and fun. They aren’t “hands-on” animals like dogs or cats but still make great pets. The website Bird Feeder Secrets ranks parakeets, cockatiels, sun conures, parrotlets, and African greys as the top five birds for pets. A word of caution, however, birds can be extremely noisy, but luckily there are quiet breeds for you apartment dwellers.

Hamster

Hamsters are cuddly little animals which many people view as a “beginner pet.” They are nocturnal, which means they’ll sleep throughout the day and wake up in the evening. Perfect if you aren’t going to be home for the day. Another plus about hamsters is that they are perfectly fine with keeping themselves entertained. Grab them a running wheel (a must) and a couple of toys, and they’ll live on happy and content. That being said, as with any animal, they still like you to interact with them.

Choosing the last spot on this list was hard, and as such, I decided to add a “runner up” list.

Snakes: Once you get over the "my God, it's going to eat me" mindset, snakes can make good pets. They do require some money and knowledge to be effectively cared for, but they do make your life interesting.

Fish: To me, fish are more like artwork. They are low maintenance and all, but watching them get boring after a while. I prefer pets who you can touch and play with, but that's just me.
Lizards/Geckos/Iguanas: Again, these animals are harder to play with and thus more like artwork. But hey, if you're a reptile person who's content with just watching, these guys are great.

Attractions That Make Niagara Falls Unique

Halfway between Chicago and New York City lies the twin city of Niagara Falls, gateway to the Great White North and Honeymoon Capital of the World. Here, the Niagara River connects Lake Erie with Lake Ontario to create three spectacular falls of water nearly 70 meters high: American Falls, Bridal Falls, and finally Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side of the border, the largest of the three, which spans nearly a kilometer along its width. All three falls face directly toward Canada, so although the American side claims a greater territory, the Canadian side has the best views.

Seeing the Falls for free

Beautifully manicured parks and walkways run alongside the Falls and the Niagara River, offering amazing views. Low-cost parking is readily available. Bring a picnic lunch on a warm day, and revel in the rainbows and the cool light mist in the air. At night, a light show lights up the spectacle of falling water. In the winter, the surface of the water sheets into hundreds of gleaming icicles.

Every Friday, Sunday, and holiday between mid-May and the end of August, Niagara Parks offers free concerts and fireworks starting at 8 p.m., weather permitting. Additional fireworks are also set off on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. during July and August only. In winter, the lighting of the falls becomes part of the Winter Festival of Lights.

Funky exhibits

Like its New York neighbor, the Canadian city of Niagara Falls also offers a few funky exhibits and far-out museums, most of which line Clifton Hill. The Ripley’s Believe It or Not building is shaped like the Empire State Building fallen on its side and straddled by King Kong. Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks includes the famous likeness of Charles Blondin, the first tightrope walker to have successfully traversed the falls.

Niagara-on-the-lake

Around the ‘corner’ of the Niagara peninsula lies the scenic town of Niagara-on-the-lake, which constantly competes with Stratford, Ontario, for the title of the prettiest town in Canada. Here you can find historical reenactments at Fort George. Niagara-on-the-lake is also home to the Shaw Festival, with some of the best summer theatres in the world.

Butterfly Conservatory

On a cold day, step into the tropical Butterfly Conservatory, and watch in delight as thousands of exotic butterflies settle on nearby flowers and even on your clothing. At the Emergence Window, you can watch while butterflies struggle out of their cocoons and into a new life.

Great wine

Take a tour of one of the Niagara Peninsula’s many award-winning vineyards. Sample some of the famous ice wine, so prized throughout the world that its vintners have to include security features on the bottles to keep them from being counterfeited.

The journey behind the falls

See Horseshoe Falls as you have never seen it before, from a cave network behind the falls. Hundreds of thousands of gallons cascade past the cave openings every second like a curtain of water, less than half a football field away. The cave entrances are open so that the air is full of mist from the falls, although barricades are in place for safety.

Where the wild things are

Just outside Niagara Falls on the other side of the peninsula from Niagara-on-the-lake, Marineland and Game Farm has aquatic shows featuring beluga whales and dolphins. African Lion Safari lets visitors drive through seven-game reserves were over a thousand animals, including a herd of Asian elephants, roam freely.

Try your luck

If going over the falls isn’t quite your style (not to mention that it is against the law in both countries!), you can take a safer kind of risk at Casino Niagara or Fallsview Casino Resort. As the names suggest, Casino Niagara is a classic casino, while Fallsview offers a greater choice of entertainment, from nightly entertainment acts to fine dining. Of course, weddings are extremely popular.

Viewing the falls from above

Take your pick of two observatory towers, a revolving dining room, a Ferris wheel, a cable car, or even a helicopter. The Niagara Skywheel has enclosed gondolas that are temperature controlled through summer and winter. Enjoy a leisurely dinner over the falls on top of the Skylon Tower, or ascend Konika Minolta Tower for a different view of the falls. The Whirlpool Aero Car actually crosses the international boundary four times on a single round trip.

The Maid of the Mist

This 25-meter boat brings its passengers right up to the foot of the falls for an unforgettable experience. You will need the raincoat they give you!

Getting to Niagara Falls is easy. For those who don’t want to drive, tours are offered to Niagara Falls from most of the upper states as well as from Toronto and most parts of Southwestern Ontario.

As border crossings go, the Rainbow Bridge is far less busy than most U.S.-Canada bridges, but you are still likely to have a short to moderate wait depending upon traffic. The Rainbow Bridge is also one of the few border crossings which still allow pedestrians to cross. Alternate border crossings in the area are available at Buffalo or at Lewiston Bridge. In most cases, a valid passport is required to enter the United States.

Attractions Niagara Falls Niagara Falls Top Ten Niagara Falls Attractions

Niagara Falls, Ontario, is perhaps the most visited destination in Canada. There is something for everyone here, but there are some attractions that receive more attention than others. This article will list the more noteworthy attractions, but this is not to say that those that don’t make the top ten list are not worthy of any attention at all. The best attractions for one visitor may not be the best for another because it is basically a matter of individual taste.

  1. The Falls

The most popular attraction in Niagara Falls has to be the Horseshoe Falls. The thundering sounds of the waterfalls as it cascades down over the sheer cliff face sends the spray high into the air so that you may even get a little wet if you are standing across the river from the falls.

  1. The Maid of the Mist

There are two boats named the Maid of the Mist that takes tourists up under the falls during the spring and summer. Dressed in a rain cape that you can keep, this is one 30 minutes that will be a thrill of a lifetime. The departure point is located at the north end of Queen Victoria Park, and you depart at the Maid of the Mist Park, a two-level shopping center with restaurants and souvenir shops.

  1. Fallsview Water Park

This is the newest tourist attraction in Niagara Falls, where young and old alike can have a fulfilling day. It is located directly across the street from the falls so that you have a wondrous view as you enjoy yourself one or more of the sixteen water slides. The park spans an area of three acres and is adjacent to the major hotels in the Falls area. In addition to the water slides, there is an indoor wave pool, an outdoor sundeck that is open year-round, an activity area, and a huge Beach Play House for the children.

  1. Bird Kingdom

With the huge numbers of free-flying birds, this venue is sure to be a hit with all visitors. You will see amazing birds and other creatures from different parts of the world. A typical visit takes about an hour in which you have a chance to feed the Lorikeets, see the many displays and gain valuable information about all the birds from the keepers of the aviary.

  1. Go Behind the Falls

Have you ever wondered what it is like behind the sheet of water that tumbles down a giant waterfall? At Niagara Falls, you have this opportunity with the Beyond the Falls experience. The journey takes between 30 and 45 minutes, and due to the spray of the water during spring and summer, you will have to wear a giant rain poncho, which is yours to keep as a souvenir. On this exciting trip, you take an elevator down 150 feet to the tunnels that lead behind the sheets of water. The elevator then starts upwards to the observation decks at the upper and lower portions of the Falls.

  1. Clifton Hill

Located only a block away from the Falls, you will find Clifton Hill in the midst of the beautiful Queen Victoria Park. This is a playground extraordinaire. Tee off at Dinosaur Mini-Golf, where all the characters are famous dinosaurs. Nightmare’s Fear Factory is designed to be the scariest experience of your life, and many visitors do chicken out before they can get to the end of the trail. Adult visitors delight in the opportunity to take in their favorite sporting action at the Sports Zone Bar and Games in the interactive games and outdoor patio. At Movieland Wax Museum, you will see all your favorite movie characters preserved for posterity in colorful wax creations. This is just a sampling of what awaits you at this venue where you can literally spend days.

  1. Oakes Garden Park

Take a stroll after dinner in Oakes Garden Park, which is located in Niagara Falls directly across from the American Falls. Here the beautifully landscaped grounds will delight you in the changing colors during every season of the year. There is no admission fee for these gardens, allowing you the chance to simply relax and savor the view. There is a restaurant adjacent to the park where you will enjoy the delectable delights on the menu.

  1. Skylon Tower

You can’t visit Niagara Falls and not have a meal or a snack in the Skylon Tower. This structure is a landmark in the city just steps away from the Falls. The revolving restaurant close to the top of the tower will provide you with a 360 view without having to even turn your head.

  1. Queen Victoria Park

Queen Victoria Park is another venue that is popular with visitors because of the spectacular views of the falls that it affords. It is located along the side of the Niagara Gorge and extends to Oakes Garden Park. By choosing to start at this park and make your way to Oakes Garden Park, you can get in your walking exercise for the day in a breathtaking setting.

  1. IMAX Theatre

Learn the story of the Great Lakes and Niagara Falls with the multimedia presentations of the Imax Theatre. Here you will also learn stories of those who have gone over the falls in the past, both deliberately and accidentally, at the Daredevil Gallery.

A Guide To Viewing Niagara Falls Without Leaving The United States

Niagara Falls, New York, has one of the most breathtaking views in the world of the famous Niagara Falls. Where would you go to find the best view? In addition, what would you do after you enjoy the majesty of Niagara Falls? Beyond the waterfall, there are some other fun and interesting places to go and things to do in Niagara Falls.

Any trip to Niagara Falls should begin at the oldest state park in the United States, Niagara Falls State Park. Dating back to 1885, Niagara Falls State Park was created to keep the area surrounding the Falls free from exploitation and free to the public. There are many winding trails along the river on Goat Island, Luna Island, and the Three Sisters Islands on the Upper Niagara River, and there are serious hiking trails into the Niagara Gorge for more avid nature lovers.

Niagara Falls State Park is home to some great attractions. The Cave of the Winds is an attraction where you can experience the power of Niagara Falls up close and personal by taking an elevator down to a walking tour on the “hurricane” deck only 20 feet from the Bridal Veil Falls. This is an experience like no other as the mighty wind and mist from the Bridal Veil Falls blasts you with hurricane force.

The Visitor Center at Niagara Falls State Park offers a place to buy souvenirs, a snack bar, maps and information, restaurants, and houses the Niagara Adventure Theater, which shows a 40-minute movie on a 45-foot screen with Dolby Digital surround sound technology. Niagara: Legends of Adventure by Academy Award-winning producer Keith Merrill and tells the story of the history of Niagara Falls.

The Niagara Gorge Discovery Center is where you can learn about the rich history of Niagara Falls through wonderful, exciting exhibits that are great for the whole family. You can climb a 26-foot rock wall modeled after the walls of the Niagara Gorge, view a movie in the 180-degree theater, or take a ride on the virtual elevator ride down into the gorge.

The activity that gives the absolute best view of Niagara Falls is The Maid of The Mist, which is a boat ride on the lower Niagara River, which takes you into the basin of the awesome Horseshoe Falls. The power and the beauty will overcome you as you get closer and closer to the wondrous cataract.

There is so much to do and experience in Niagara Falls. It is no wonder that millions of people visit it from all around the world every year. The Cave of the Winds and The Maid of the Mist is the best way to experience the power and the majesty of the mighty Niagara Falls.

Celebrating the Justice League Release with TV Store Online

I'm Celebrating the Justice League Release with TV Store Online! Check out all the fun novelty t-shirts they have of your favorite characters!

I was given a free Superman Dress from TV Store Online in exchange for this post and social media love. While the dress was free, it has not impacted my review. All opinions below are my own. I also could receive a small commission should you choose to purchase via my links in the post at no cost to you. Thanks in advance for your support!

Have you heard the news?!? Zack Snyder’s Justice League is now streaming on HBO Max. In celebration of this release, TV Store Online is promoting their best superhero t-shirts and Halloween costumes. Who says you have to wait til Halloween to wear costumes? Certainly not me!

At the time of this writing, there is a pretty sweet offer of 15% off their entire collection on their website. They have all of your favorite characters too. Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, The Joker, Lois Lane, Hawkman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Mera, and The Flash.

The website asked me if I wanted to try any of their shirts or costumes, and I jumped at the chance to get this adorable Superman/Supergirl Tan Dress. It even has a detachable cape y’all. It is so cute. But, since the dress looks WAY hotter on the model on the TV Store website than it does me, here’s what the dress looks like:

My Review of the TV Store Online Products

I’ve received a couple of items from TV Store Online now, and for the cost, it’s a great value. I feel like the quality is decent, and I’m still rockin my Power Rangers jacket I got from the website a couple of years ago.

The sizes do tend to run a little small, so I would say it’s a good idea to get a larger size than you think you need. If you wear large t-shirts, go ahead and get the XL. Also – to extend the quality/shelf life – pay close attention to the cleaning instructions.

I personally would not throw these in the dryer because the fabric tends to shrink. So throw in a little fabric softener and hang it to dry. I suspect that this way of caring for my Supergirl tank dress will help it last as long as my Power Rangers hoodie.

Some of the products tend to be higher quality than others, but that is honestly expected considering the low price point. The costumers aren’t exactly intended for multiple uses. But if you have a couple of conventions and costume parties to attend, they are PERFECT. Like I said, you really can’t beat these prices.

Of what I have seen the t-shirts and hoodies have the best quality. And, I can confidently recommend them as great novelty gifts for yourself or the movie fans in your life.

Also – they have a lot more than just superheros. They have fun gifts and novelty items from TV shows and a lot of popular blockbuster films. Check out this website to see what I mean.

Here are some of my other favorites from their website:

And I LOVE me some Hoodies, so I definitely love these two:

Which one is your favorite? Leave me a comment or tweet me at AshleyisFamous and tell me about it! And, if you want to make a purchase, here is my affiliate link to TV Store Online one more time. There is no additional cost to you if you make a purchase from this link, but it does support my blogging efforts. So, thank you for your support!

How to Make Pudding Pie

Chocolate Pudding Pie Dessert

Whatever the occasion, the one dessert my cousin’s kids beg me to make is Chocolate Pudding Pie. Fortunately, it’s also very inexpensive and simple to prepare. Plus, it doesn’t take a lot of time, so if I’m short on desserts or having company last minute, I can whip it up pretty quickly.

Ingredients

  • 1 ready-made graham cracker pie crust
  • 1 box chocolate instant pudding (5.1 oz. size) – I often skip the vanilla pudding and just double the chocolate! But, you do you boo!
  • 1 box vanilla instant pudding (5.1 oz. size)
  • 5-6 cups of 2% or whole milk
  • 8-16 oz. heavy whipping cream (8 oz. makes 2 cups whipped cream, 16 oz. makes 4)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (or sugar substitute)

Directions

Pie

  1. Prepare vanilla pudding by mixing the packet with 2 1/2 to 3 cups of cold milk. (The less milk you use the more mousse-like the consistency. I use 2 3/4 cup for more of a classic pudding texture).
  2. Prepare the chocolate pudding and keep separate from the vanilla pudding.
  3. Pour vanilla pudding into the ready-made graham cracker crust until halfway full.
  4. Cover vanilla pudding with chocolate pudding until crust is nearly full (leave about 1/4″ unfilled to make cutting easier later on and room for whipped cream)
  5. Cover pie and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (up to 24 hours)

Whipped Cream

  1. Pour one or two cups of heavy whipping cream into a cold metal or glass bowl
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat on high until soft peaks form
  3. Add sugar or sugar substitute to taste (1 tablespoon per 8 oz. heavy whipping cream is usually sufficient)
  4. Continue beating until desired consistency

Tips

I recommend allowing guests to put whipped cream on their own pie as everyone has different preferences. Putting the whipped cream on the pie in advance is not recommended as it can become runny in the refrigerator.

You will probably have extra vanilla and chocolate pudding. Pour the pudding into tall milkshake glasses (alternating vanilla and chocolate) and top with whipped cream for those who don’t like pie crust.

I use Keebler Ready Crust, which comes in several flavors and sizes. For a larger pie, buy the “two extra serving size.” No extra pudding is necessary, but you won’t have any leftover.

For a kids party, or just for fun, make extra pudding and buy the “mini graham cracker” crusts. Then let the kids fill the crusts themselves. You can also put out toppings like sprinkles, coconut, or chopped nuts for decoration.

Ready-made crusts can also be found in chocolate, shortbread, and fat-free varieties. The flavor makes no difference; use any kind.

Chocolate and vanilla are my family’s favorite, but pudding comes in different flavors too. Match two of your favorites, or for picky eaters, make one that is all chocolate or all vanilla.

Feature image credit: Photo credit: djwtwo on VisualHunt.com

3 Easy Casseroles

Three Easy Casserole Recipes-min

During a busy holiday season, nothing is more comforting than a trusted casserole. Loved ones will appreciate the aroma of the delicious food baking in the oven.

Casseroles were designed for convenience. They can be made in advance and refrigerated or frozen for baking later. Or they can be whipped up and cooked right away. Since many casseroles are also one-dish meals, cleanup is easy, so hosts can enjoy their guests.

Healthy Fish Casserole Recipe

Sometimes it’s nice to have something besides standard holiday turkey, ham, and roast beef. Fish is not only delicious; it’s healthy for the heart.

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 1-1/2 pound of white fish fillets
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (Swiss or mild cheddar)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a skillet.
  3. Sauté the diced onion until translucent. Add the wine and cook until the wine is reduced to half.
  4. Pour sautéed onions and wine into the casserole dish. Layer it with the fish fillets.
  5. Bake in a 400-degree oven for approximately 12 to 15 minutes until the fish flakes with a fork.
  6. Sprinkle the Italian seasoning over the cod and add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. In a medium bowl, mix 1 tbsp. oil with the garlic powder. Gently fold the bread crumbs into the mixture. Sprinkle the bread mixture on top of the cod. Add the cheese.
  8. Return to the oven for approximately 5 to 10 more minutes, until the cheese has melted.

Holiday Vegetarian Casserole

Vegetarians will appreciate being thought of during holiday meals. This dish can be prepared in advance and baked right before the meal.

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 large package of ziti pasta
  • 1 14 ounces can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 ounces can of kidney beans
  • 1 15 ounces can of navy beans
  • 1 24 ounces jar of prepared spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Spray casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. Cook pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain and put it back into the pot.
  3. Add diced tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, kidney beans, and navy beans.
  4. Pour the mixture into the casserole dish.
  5. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese and mozzarella cheese over the top.
  6. Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 40 to 45 minutes.

Easy Potato Side Dish Casserole Recipe

Quick and inexpensive, potatoes are a favorite among adults and children. This potato casserole is filled with flavor and easy to make.

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 bag thawed hash brown potatoes
  • (Optional) 1 cup diced cooked ham
  • 1 can condensed cream of chicken or cream of celery soup
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 diced onion
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Spray casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine hash brown potatoes, ham if desired, soup, 1 cup of cheese, melted butter, diced onion, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
  3. Pour the mixture into the casserole dish.
  4. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese and the diced red bell pepper over the top.
  5. Cover and bake in 350-degree oven for approximately 1 hour.

Casseroles are perfect for the dinner menu at home, offering as a holiday food gift or bringing to a covered dish dinner. Attach a recipe card so others can make it later.

Wine Storage Tips

Proper Wine Storage Tips White Glasses
Proper Wine Storage Tips Red and White Glasses
How you store your wine can have a direct impact on its shelf life. This post features proper wine storage tips to improve your wine's shelf life.

The following is a guest post from Firstleaf wine membership club. This post is not sponsored, however they did send me a bottle of their wine to try.

The special occasion — a new job, an anniversary, a new addition to the family — is finally here. You’ve been saving a bottle of wine just for this. Maybe you got it at a long ago winery visit. Maybe it’s a bottle you’ve been saving from the day of your wedding. 

Now it’s time to finally open it. But wait! The cork has dropped into the wine! Or the liquid looks grainy and separated. Or has an off smell. What happened? Suddenly all the good vibes from the special day are gone.

Unfortunately, improper wine storage can lead to unhappy moments like these. The wine subscription service Firstleaf has put together a guide to make sure this never happens to you.

How to Build Wine Storage covers everything you need to know about keeping wine for longer than a few weeks.

  • The science behind wine storage
  • An overview of the main types
  • How to build your own

Why Is It So Important To Store Wine Correctly?

The flavor of wine is actually quite delicate. Even a few minutes in a hot car trunk could ruin it. But if you store wine properly, it will not only stay delicious, it will develop deeper flavor that you can enjoy when you drink it.

It’s okay to keep wine on the kitchen counter if you plan to drink it in the next few weeks, but any wine you plan on storing for more than six months requires some sort of refrigeration, or naturally cooled location like a basement. Wine must be kept close to 55 degrees Fahrenheit for long-term storage, and most of our homes are a lot warmer than that!

A few other things to know:

  • Avoid direct sunlight, which can quickly heat the wine up even on cool days
  • Keep the wine horizontal. This keeps the cork moist. If the cork dries out it shrinks and may drop into the wine. 

The Main Types of Wine Storage

There are three main types of wine storage. 

Wine Racks

A wine rack goes in your kitchen or bar area. It has space for 10-15 bottles to lay horizontally. A wine rack is for short-term storage of wine you plan to drink in the next few months. Wine racks must be hidden away from direct sunlight, and shouldn’t be kept next to anything that gets lot, like the stove or your toaster.

Wine Refrigerators

A wine refrigerator is the simplest option for long-term storage of wine. These appliances are designed especially for wine and will hold a certain number of bottles. They keep the wine at the proper temperature and humidity to ensure quality.

Wine Cellars

Traditionally wine was kept in underground cellars, which stayed cool year-round. But many of us live in homes without basements — or if we have them, we heat them. So a modern wine cellar is usually a room that is build especially for storing wine, with custom heating and cooling elements.

How to Build Your Own

There are a few interesting options for DIY wine storage, especially racks. They make a good beginning woodworking project. See Firstleaf’s guide for more details.

Wine Storage Tips From First Leaf

Ham & Cheese Sliders with Brown Sugar and Honey Glaze

Recipe for Ham & Cheese Sliders w a Brown Sugar and Honey Glaze


Prep: 2 minutes
Makes: 12 sliders
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 12 pack Hawaiian Dinner Rolls
  • 12 oz. of thick ham
  • 4-6 slices swiss cheese or similar
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp. honey

Directions:

  • Place dinner rolls on a baking sheet and use a serrated knife to slice them half.
  • Place ham and cheese on the bottom buns and set the top half of the buns over the ham and cheese.
  • In a small bowl melt butter and whisk in the brown sugar and honey.
  • Brush the brown sugar glaze over top of the buns.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until the buns are golden brown and cheese is melted.
  • Cut and serve

Balance Yoga Poses

Balance is key for proper technique and strength building, and developing a greater balance will allow you to have a more fulfilling yoga workout. Here five balance yoga poses, listed in order of increasing intensity.

Balance Yoga Poses for Beginners

 Tree Pose (Vrksasana): Tree Pose is a common favorite among many yoga enthusiasts. It’s a simple way to improve your balance without tiring out your legs. While initially challenging, once mastered, Tree Pose offers a truly centering and calming experience. To form the pose, stand with your feet together and your hands on your hips. Bend your right knee into your chest, then, keeping it bent, turn it out to the right side. Place your right foot against the inside of your left thigh. Inhale, raising your arms above your head, and then exhale, lowering them out to the sides. To come out of the pose, you can either return to standing or lean forward into Warrior 3, described below.

 Warrior 3 (Virabhadrasana III): This is a wonderful pose for increasing balance and stabilizing the legs. From Tree Pose, inhale, stretch your arms up over your head, and bring your knee in front of you, keeping it bent. As you exhale, press your palms together in front of your heart and take your bent knee under your body and extend it out behind you. Keep the back leg active and flex the foot. You can take your arms and stretch them out in front of you, out to the sides, or back along the sides of your body, whichever is the most comfortable for you.

 Eagle Pose (Garudasana): Eagle Pose strengthens the quadriceps and provides a nice twist for the legs and arms, and it is one of the best balance yoga poses for increasing leg strength. Start by standing tall with your feet together, then cross your left leg over your right, bending the knee to press the left foot into the back of the right calf. Bend the right leg and stretch your arms over your head. Next, lower your arms on an exhale and bend them to make a 90-degree angle. Your forearms should be perpendicular to the floor in front of your body. Take your right elbow and place it inside the crook of your left arm. Then face the palms toward each other and press them together as you sink deeper into the pose. Repeat the pose for the other side.

Intermediate Balance Yoga Poses

 Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana): This balance pose is a little trickier than Warrior 3, as it involves twisting the body and reaching one hand toward the floor. You can enter this pose from Triangle Pose or from Mountain Pose. Place your left hand on the ground, take your right hand to your hip, and lift your right leg into the air parallel to the floor. When you feel steady, extend your right arm into the air, perpendicular to the floor. Repeat on the other side.

 Upward Bow Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana): This pose is a great way to increase flexibility in addition to balance. Commonly known as a “bridge” pose in gymnastics, it is probably the riskiest of all of the balance yoga poses in this article, so be careful and don’t push yourself too hard. Start by lying down on your back with your arms stretched over your head. Bend your knees and point your toes straight in front of you. Plant your hands near your shoulders and come up onto the crown of your head first. When you feel balanced, push up with your arms into the full Upward Bow Pose. Stay here only for a few moments, then tuck your chin and slowly lower yourself to the ground. Stretch your arms over your head and hug your knees to your chest to neutralize your spine.

Shirsasana (Headstand) - Though inversions are challenging at first, this restful pose has a great effect on the body's internal systems. Use a wall and work gradually towards building enough core strength and a sense of balance to stand freely. This pose tones all the internal organs and circulatory system and calms the mind. A great way to start every day.

Don’t push yourself so hard that you risk falling, and always be sure to move slowly and safely. Beginner’s classes can be a great way to learn the correct forms of these balance yoga poses and receive feedback from a trained instructor.