Container Herb Gardening With Seasons on the Hudson

I recently visited Seasons on the Hudson in Irvington, NY to participate in a container herb gardening workshop hosted by Gerald Palumbo, owner of Seasons on the Hudson and Seasons, A Floral Studio in Manhattan.

Container herb gardening is easier than I thought. These lovely little eco-systems can be customized to your palate. Love Italian cuisine? Basil, thyme, oregano and rosemary are the herbs for you. These little gardens are convenient and beautiful. Notice how Gerald liked to alternate tall and squat herbs so the containers had a visual appeal with dimension and balance.

Over the years, my containers of herbs have sat on my front steps, making an obstacle course for visitors who gingerly navigated pots teeming with fragrant mint and basil, dill, chive and parsley. My big mistake had been not using pots with irrigation holes at the bottom OR adding a buffering layer of gravel, like Gerald demonstrated, or small stones that I have on hand from terrarium building projects.

Note that Palumbo points out that herb container gardens will not grow beyond their “quarters” like herbs might when planted in the garden. Think about how mint just takes over the garden like ivy does in the yard. With regular pruning and care, these herbs will stay fresh and flavorful all summer long. Some will thrive more in the winter months will plenty of sunlight.

Not only are these beautiful planters great for cooks to use at home, but they also make perfect centerpieces. In fact, Palumbo has found that instead of conventional flower arrangements at weddings, many couples are requesting herb containers that guests can take home after the celebration.

Palumbo sells customized herb garden containers similar to the one we created in the video for $75 at his stores in both Irvington and Manhattan. They can tailor your container garden to your preferences.

Seasons, a Floral Design Studio                                        Seasons on the Hudson

888 8th Avenue                                                                          45 Main Street

New York, NY 10019                                                                 Irvington, NY 10533

phone: 212.586.2257                                                                phone: 914.591.7377

Thanks to Miko, manager of the Irvington shop, for filming this video.

 

Contributions made by Sam Donsky

Container Herb Gardening: A Growing Trend

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Seasons on the Hudson’s container herb garden

Even though I have plenty of garden space, I love the flexibility that containers give me: pots of basil, parsley and rosemary are standard on my kitchen counter all year round. I keep big pots of chives on my front steps for snipping into salads and soups. I have been growing herbs this way with relative success over the years. I wanted to know more though. Should herbs be intermingled? Do some varieties just need their own private pot to thrive? What kind of drainage should pots have? How much water? And sun?

I reached out to Gerald Palumbo, the owner of Seasons on the Hudson in Irvington, NY and Seasons: A Floral Design Studio in Manhattan for the answers.  

Q: What are the biggest myths about container herb gardening? Is it true that you can grow a garden in a vessel as small as a teacup?

A: Myth: herbs will live indefinitely indoors. Many herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro, and dill are annuals and will only do well through one growing seasons. Other herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage and oregano are perennials and may live for many years if they are well taken care of. With regard to planting herbs in small containers such as a teacup, keep in mind that the smaller the container the smaller the plant will remain.

Q: What are the herbs that are ideally planted with each other? Which herbs should not be planted together and why?

A: You generally want to plant herbs together that prefer the same light and moisture conditions:  For example rosemary, lavender, thyme, and oregano tend to like drier soil and lots of sun. Herbs like basil, chives, parsley and dill prefer moister soil.  

Q: What are some considerations for containers with herbs which will be kept indoors?

A: With the proper light conditions most herbs can be kept indoors. Frequent cutting of the herbs and regular fertilizing will promote continual growth.

Q: What is the basic care of herb containers for outdoors living in the summer season?

A: When herb gardens are placed outside during the summer, proper watering is crucial. Plants tend to dry out quicker when in containers, especially terra cotta.

Q: What is the ideal container made of for herb planting?

A: I prefer terra cotta for the herbs that prefer a drier soil and I prefer plastic or ceramic containers for the moisture-loving varieties. Good drainage is always important.

Q: What are three rules of thumb for container planting?

A: Choose the proper container with good drainage. Use a good potting soil. Always water your container very well after planting.

Q: For herbs being mixed in container planters, does close proximity impact things like taste and growth?

A: Flavor of the herbs is not affected by how close they are planted to each other. I like to plant the herbs that I like to cook with and it is always nice to have fresh herbs on the kitchen window sill in the winter.

Seasons on the Hudson will host a container herb garden workshop on Sunday, June 19th, at “Celebrate Irvington” where you can learn how to create a beautiful herb garden for your kitchen table, patio, or as a nice gift for someone. The cost is $75 per person and covers the workshop and provided materials for an herb container garden you can take home with you. Timing is flexible. For registration and details visit: http://bit.ly/1S41O2l

WHEN

Sunday, 19 June 2016 from 11:00 to 16:00 (EDT)

WHERE

Seasons On The Hudson – 45 Main Street, Irvington, NY

 

 

Contributions made by Sam Donsky

Hoboken Farms: Small Town Sauce, Big Town Flavor

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Hoboken Farms Big Basil tomato basil sauce

Store-bought sauce can be a pretty contentious subject for fans of sauces with that just-made fresh flavor. I was one of those snobs, always stressing to squish San Marzano tomatoes in the can as a pot of salted water cooked pasta. I’d pull out the woody stems and toss the broken down tomato meat with fresh smashed garlic cloves sizzling in olive oil. That simmering concoction would meld as it cooked, was seasoned with salt and pepper and finished with torn fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of EVOO.

My work-life balance wasn’t in sync enough for homemade sauces to be on the menu and I always kept a few jarred options to resort to when the kids were lobbying for lasagna, pasta and a protein or chicken parm. I’d get complaints when I hadn’t sufficiently labored at the stove and produced a luxurious sauce that had flavor rich with the taste and aroma of freshly made tomato and basil sauce with the wonderful texture of those hand-swished tomato chunks. 

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Hoboken Farms sauce comes in three varieties (L to R): Big Red, Big Boss and Big Basil

When the folks at Hoboken Farms asked me to sample their three sauces–Big Red, their marinara sauce; Big Boss, their vodka sauce; and Big Basil, their tomato basil sauce– I agreed without expecting much. I had read the reviews and readied myself to see what all the fuss was about. 

I popped off the lid of the Big Basil sauce and took stock: wonderfully fresh aroma; great texture thanks to meaty tomato chunks; beautifully seasoned and full of fresh taste. These sauces are the real deal. They have the taste you’d expect from a chef that perfected marina, tomato basil and vodka sauces by simply relying on excellent quality ingredients prepared classically with minimal fuss.

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Big Basil sauce served over Tolerant Organic Red Lentil Penne

Here’s how I enjoyed Big Basil over Tolerant Organic Red Lentil Penne: talk about elevating the natural flavor of pasta! Hoboken Farms defies you to sauce your pasta  modestly the way you’d be served them in Italy. I flunked, happily and greedily over-saucing and enjoying every spoonful. 

Other ways I’d serve Hoboken Farms Big Basil or Big Red sauces:

– Spooned over a layer of pesto atop a grilled slice of sourdough or ciabatta

– Layered with plain Greek yogurt for a savory parfait that’s topped with minced celery and parsley for crunch 

– Spooned over zucchini noodles or baked potato

– Blended with summer veggies like squash and kale for a refreshing smoothie or chilled soup

– Stir a cup or more into bean or vegetable soup

– Baked on top of seasoned chicken cutlets or fillets of fish like char

You are only limited by your creativity with Hoboken Farms, a pantry essential for uncompromising sauce enthusiasts. 

Contributions made by Samantha (Sam) Donsky

Natural Products Expo East Highlights: To Drink

The Natural Products Expo offered thousands of companies a platform to showcase their goods.  There were thousands of visitors as well so apologies for the poor sound quality in the videos below.  Here are notables in the category of To Drink:

Galilee Tisanes – Galilee Tisanes has made it their mission as a company to find the perfect balance between agriculture, herbal medicine and technology.  Each tea blend targets a specific malady and provides a tasty brew as well.

FRESH Natural Spring Water – FRESH Natural Spring Water offers a natural pH balance of 7.9 to hydrate on a deeper level than plain H2O.

Wild Poppy – Wild Poppy juices are small batch, organic juices in vibrant, sophisticated blends.  Their branding is as delightful as the line is tasty.  This one’s a winner.  Wild Poppy Organic Peppermint Lemonade is our favorite.

Pukka Organic Teas – The British know tea.  The word ‘pukka’ is Indian for the best, and indeed, this line is indeed pukka.  Pukka offers thoughtful blends based on Ayervedic medicine.  The line succeeds for pure sipping pleasure and sensuous fragrance.  The branding of this exquisite line of organic herbal blends has elevated their packaging to art form.

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Bruce Cost Ginger Ale – Bruce Cost Ginger Ale out of Brooklyn is made with only fresh ginger and pure cane sugar.  Unlike mass produced syrupy ginger ales, hand crafted Bruce Cost Ginger Ale is light, refreshing and full of ginger vibrance.  Love this line.

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Suja Juice – Crafted for elevated wellness, Suja Juices are packed with fresh fruits, vegetables and flavors.  Each juice has a distinctive taste and tastes freshly squeezed.  The Master Cleanse is my favorite.

Natural Products Expo East Highlights: To Eat

The Natural Products Expo offered thousands of companies a platform to showcase their goods.  There were thousands of visitors as well so apologies for the poor sound quality in the videos below.  Here are notables in the category of To Eat:

Smart Flour Foods – Anyone who is gluten-free knows how hard it can be to find a delicious gluten free pizza.  Smart Flour Foods has solved that problem for gluten-free foodies by creating a line of pizzas that feature a crunchy crust reminiscent of wood-fired pizzas.  This is an outstanding pizza line.

Wild Friends Foods – Wild Friends Foods are a tasty line of nut butters featuring ingredient pairings started by two very clever twenty-somethings.

Bill’s Best Organic BBQ Sauces – Bill’s Best organic BBQ sauces are based on family recipes passed down to Jason Fehon by his father who suffers from  Frontotemperal Degeneration.  10% of each bottle purchased is donated to finding a cure for the disease.  Jason’s a young, passionate entrepreneur who runs the company with his brother.  Ingredients are first rate, from organic Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar to exotic imported spices.   Beautiful packaging.  Regular and spicy versions, both excellent.

DF Mavens – DF Mavens call themselves the finest producers of dairy-free ice cream.   Bright, fresh flavors impressed.

Mamalicious – Mamalicious protein powder uses brown rice as a protein base, providing an easy option for mixing with liquids or smoothies to up vitamin, mineral and nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.

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Real and Wonderful – Real and Wonderful are the makers of delicious raw foods.  With a line of snacks ranging from Vanilla Macaroons to Red Pepper Herb Crackers, Real and Wonderful offer feel-good raw snacks in tempting flavor combinations.

Bear Branch Milling Co.  –  ‘A man full of grits, is a man full of peace.’  That’s the motto of Ash, North Carolina’s Bear Branch Milling Co.   This is the real deal.  The line is made in a 100+ year old mill and includes all natural stone ground yellow and white cornmeal, grits, as well as whole wheat flour milled from whole grains, free of additives or preservatives.  Its corn is not genetically modified.  The entire line is gluten-free.  Beautiful packaging, honest and simple.

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Gunshot Sauce – Gunshot Sauce, a versatile vinegar-based gourmet sauce from Shade Tree Sauce Company, is a natural to pair with proteins, to punch up salad dressings and slather on eggs.

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NoTatoes – NoTatoes are from Sorilito Foods in Bethel, CT blending cassava with corn.  The result is a crispy, lightly salted alternative to tortillas.  Kid-friendly with enough sophistication to appease adults.

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Treeline Cheese – Treeline Cheese dares people to be dairy free.  These artisanal cheeses are made from Brazilian cashew nuts but still have a delectable creamy texture and tang.  I particularly liked their smoked hard cheeses.

Seasnax – Seasnax make noshing on seaweed as a snack rather addicting.  Made with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt, Seasnax are a healthy snack both mother and child approved.  My favorite is the regular although multiple new flavors have emerged.

Foodfacts.com’s BABY Nutrition, Allergen & Score Guide, Must-Have Book for Families with Allergies, Food Sensitivities or Other Nutritional Concerns

Foodfacts.com's book BABY Nutrition, Allergen & Score Guide, available on Amazon
Foodfacts.com’s book BABY Nutrition, Allergen & Score Guide, available on Amazon

Ever notice how eating cheesy processed snacks like Cheetos or Doritos leave your fingers and mouth a different color and create intense cravings for bag after bag of the salty, addictive crunchy contents? That’s exactly the experience that gave Stanley Rak, a New Jersey businessman, the impetus to look at the ingredient list on the bag and scratch his head over several unpronounceable names. Rak noticed his grandson’s demeanor, temperament and behavior change within 10 minutes of consuming the snack – and not for the better. Taking the ingredient list to task, Rak began what would become an all-consuming obsession with identifying what exactly is in our food. Within a matter of months he founded www.Foodfacts.com, a comprehensive online resource that has cultivated a huge following amongst consumers, nutritionists, pediatricians, health professionals and others who want to find out what’s really in our food.

Foodfacts.com has a Health Score which uses a “unique, patent-pending algorithm that combines traditional measures of nutrition facts along with quality of ingredients, while excluding any personal bias or prejudice.” The website says manufacturers have no input on the score, taste is not considered and scores are not compared between products, creating a simple, easy-to-understand tool to help consumers navigate the often confusing world of ingredient lists and nutritional labels. Brands, food products and ingredients are easily searched through the website’s A-Z filters, providing at-a-glance letter ratings (A and B are best) and breaking down the ratings as well into nutrients, class 1 allergens, other allergens and controversial items.

Foodfacts is focused on proper nutrition through watching calories, sodium and fat and also takes into account ingredient quality. For example, a sugar-free, fruit-flavored hard candy may only have ten calories apiece, but it is loaded with dangerous artificial colors, controversial sugar substitutes, unpronounceable additives and no vitamins or minerals. It gets an F on the Foodfacts site. Compare that with a 100 calorie organic chocolate bar with a hefty 14 grams of fat per serving, which gets a C rating because it doesn’t contain controversial ingredients.

The good news? While kids and adults are equally craving and addicted to foods and beverages, from formula, snacks, candies, juices and sodas, there’s hope for those who want to eat smarter and healthier. Removing processed, mass-produced foods from the pantry and fridge need not be costly or traumatic. Foodfacts BABY Nutrition, Allergen and Score Guide makes it easy to wisely choose from a range of baby-toddler products in multiple categories, while offering sage advice on controversial ingredients, understanding nutrients and how to incorporate the most nutritious foods into the adult, pregnant mom and baby diet. From switching to semi-solids for babies to common sense advice for moms, this non-preachy how-to book is a must-have tool for people with a thirst for understanding what’s really in their food. Within three weeks of eliminating unhealthy foods from a child or adult diet, multiple health benefits are evident. The reason? Addictions are believed to subside in this time frame, cleansing the body of chemicals which trigger mood, behavior, cravings and other downsides of unhealthy eating.

“The United States is far behind countries in Europe and other parts of the world in terms of transparency in the food industry and providing a full accounting of ingredients on labels,” Rak said. “What’s more, the U.S. doesn’t have rules about the use of chemicals that are known to be highly dangerous at worse and extremely addicting at best. Our excessive use of food dyes, allergens, artificial flavors and sugars, whether in the guise of high fructose corn syrup or other forms, has created a nation of kids that are inclined towards obesity, hyperactivity, sugar addiction and unhealthy adult years. When we use sugar-laden formulas in infancy and artificially flavored baby foods in later months, we are setting the stage for a host of behavioral and health problems that will impact them and their families socially, academically and financially.”

Rak’s short list of problem ingredients includes:

1. Artificial Dyes – These harmful chemicals have been shown to cause hyperactivity in children. In fact, products made with these dyes in the UK are required to carry warning labels!

2. Natural Flavors – This common ingredient is actually a label meant to hide long lists of “natural” chemicals that add flavor – and sometimes hidden allergens or controversial ingredients.

3. Sugars and “carbohydrates” – whether termed evaporated cane sugar, corn syrup or simply listed as “carbohydrates,” sugars have an immediate addicting quality that create the desire for more consumption.

4. Hydrogenated Oils – these oils contain trans fat, even if the manufacturer has manipulated a product’s serving size to appear trans fat free!

5. Hidden sources of MSG – names like “yeast extract,” “hydrolyzed protein” and “natural flavors” are all ways (but not the only ways!) that manufacturers slip MSG into their products, enhancing the taste but giving some consumers side effects such as headaches.

Foodfacts Baby Nutrition, Allergen & Score Guide is available through www.foodfacts.com.

4th Annual Green Screen Environmental Film Series, NNJ’s 1st, Kicks Off at Bibi’z, Westwood, January 31

DearGovernorCuomo[POSTER]Westwood’s 4th Annual “Green Screen” Brings Educational and Entertaining Environmental Films to Bergen County

Northern New Jersey’s First & Only Environmental Film Series Kicks Off With Reception at Bibi’z Restaurant, January 31

Westwood’s Fourth Annual “Green Screen” — a week-long festival of fascinating and informative environmental films — will kick off on Thursday, January 31, 2013 and run through February 6, 2013 at the Westwood Cinema, 182 Center Avenue, Westwood, NJ and at the Westwood Public Library, 49 Park Avenue, Westwood, NJ. The Green Screen film series is Northern New Jersey’s only environmental film festival and features six award-winning, widely acclaimed films not shown in local theaters. As the festival’s premiere event, the new Sundance-winning documentary, Chasing Ice, will be shown for the first time in Northern New Jersey. Other films in the series, PLANEAT and FRESH, focus on healthy eating and sustainable farming; the latter’s free screening featuring a talk from Ramsey native and Blooming Hills organic farmer Guy Jones.

This year, in addition to the outstanding films, the Green Screen invites filmgoers to attend a pre-festival reception on Thursday, January 31st at 6:00 p.m. at Bibi’z Restaurant, 284 Center Avenue, Westwood, NJ where organic and sustainably produced hot and cold hors d’oeuvres and wines will be served. The pre-festival reception is tickets-only. The price of all six films plus the Pre-Film Reception at Bibi’z Restaurant is $35. All films are priced separately or are free. For a full schedule and pricing information, or to purchase tickets, go to: http://westwoodpubliclibrary.weebly.com/4th-annual-green-screen.html.

Organized by the Westwood Public Library and Westwood Cinema along with the non-profit groups United for Earth and Pascack Sustainability, the 4th Annual Green Screen brings to Bergen County an outstanding lineup of award-winning documentaries focused on key environmental issues, from the undeniable evidence of climate change in the melting Arctic glaciers, to an emerging global sustainable food movement, to the hazards of automobile idling and plastics in our environment. Co-sponsors to the festival include: ClimateMama, Food & Water Watch NJ, and 350.orgNJ. The festival’s media sponsor is Community Life.

Chasing Ice tells the story of National Geographic photographer and former climate skeptic James Balog, who uses time-lapse cameras to capture glaciers in motion as they disappear at an astonishing rate. The film earned Best Cinematography at Sundance Film Festival and Best Documentary by the Environmental Media Association and will be shown at Westwood Cinema at 8:00 p.m. on January 31st. Co-sponsors Harriet Shugarman of ClimateMama, Aditi Sen of United for Earth, and Rosemary Dreger Carey of Pascack Sustainability & 350.orgNJ will lead a discussion after the film. Tickets for the screening are $10.

PLANEAT (72 mins.) — The story of a search for a diet that is good for our health and good for the future of the planet. Through personal interviews with a top scientist, a leading physician, world class chefs and farmers, the film explores the link between diet and disease, and how our food choices contribute to global warming, land use and oceanic dead zones. PLANEAT will be shown on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 7:30 pm at Westwood Cinema. Tickets are $10.

Dear Governor Cuomo (75 mins.) — This award-winning documentary uses music and cautionary narrative to explain the threats of the controversial energy drilling process known as “fracking” and to motivate people to rise up against the practice. With music-direction by Natalie Merchant, the film features actors Mark Ruffalo and Melissa Leo, environmental biologist Sandra Steingraber, and musicians Joan Osborne, Citizen Cope, Medeski Martin and Wood and The Felice Brothers. Dear Governor Cuomo will be shown on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 7:30 pm at Westwood Cinema. Tickets: $10. Co-sponsor Matt Smith of Food & Water Watch NJ will provide information before and after the film.

In addition to the films shown at Westwood Cinema, the Green Screen Film Festival will feature free documentary films and opportunities for discussion at the Westwood Public Library, 49 Park Ave., Westwood NJ:

Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic? (78 mins.) What started as a documentary about plastic bags evolved into a wholesale investigation into plastics and their effect on our waterways, oceans, and even our bodies. Discussion after film will include an invitation to join the Bag It movement and decide for yourself how plastic your life will be. The film will be show on Saturday, Saturday, February 2 at 2:00 p.m. Westwood Public Library. Admission is free. Co-sponsors Pascack Sustainability & 350.orgNJ will lead a discussion after the film.

FRESH (72 mins.) celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system by forging healthier, sustainable alternatives. The film will be shown Sunday February 3 at 3:00 p.m. at Westwood Public Library. Co-sponsor Pascack Sustainability and local farmer Guy Jones of Blooming Hill Farm, Blooming Grove, NJ will lead a discussion after the film. Admission to the film is free.

IDLE THREAT (60 mins.) is an inspiring documentary film about one man’s resilient struggle with the NYPD to enforce a 38 year-old anti-engine idling law in order to reduce air pollution and battle global warming. Against all odds, he succeeds and in the process, gets worldwide recognition, and improves the quality of life in New York. The film will be shown Monday, February 4 at 7:00 p.m. at Westwood Public Library. Admission to the film is free.

Pascack Sustainability Group is a non-profit with a mission to raise environmental awareness and promote sustainable practices in the Pascack Valley towns of Northern New Jersey. For more information, visit http://www.pascacksustainabilitygroup.org.

United for Earth is a non-profit organization which with its subsidiary Kids for Earth offers workshops, earth fairs, and kids scouting programs that are designed to enable both young and old to embrace sustainable living habits. For more information, visit http://www.unitedforearth.org and http://www.kidsforearth.org.

Welcome to Redhead With A Fork!

Thank you for visiting Redhead With A Fork, a blog dedicated to adventures in eating, cooking, lifestyle and consumerism.  Here you’ll find musings about dining out, cooking, nifty products, noteworthy places and programs and other things I stumble upon that I’d like to share.  I am a mother of three, feeding two teenage girls and a 10 year old boy, all great eaters and very opinionated.  By (week)day I run the boutique public relations agency I founded, tending to clients in and beyond the Garden State.  But from the moment I enter my home in the early evening, I tie on an apron and (often wearily) plot and prepare dinner. With homework overseen from afar at my stove post, I, like millions of other mothers and fathers, wear multiple hats.  We have a core rotation of favorite dinner mainstays, which I’ll be sharing, and I often experiment with new recipes and twists on classics.

I cook simple preparations that are going to be enjoyed.  I aim for healthy and for the most part, succeed.  We are omnivores.  My older daughter Isabel is the most finicky of my kids, telling me she no longer eats chicken at dinner when she subsists on grilled chicken wraps for lunch.  Cooking for kids can be among life’s least rewarding experiences at times.  But on those occasions when everyone is happily eating around the table and the kids are getting along, I know that I am blessed and feel so appreciative of life, family and the dinner gathering.

Because my time is limited on evenings and weekends (homework, kids’ sports events, spending time with my kids, food shopping, yoga, dog walking and the occasional round of golf), I will focus here on things that I think and hope will be of value to you.  Things as mundane as good organizing tools for the kitchen or a nifty shortcut to a satisfying weeknight meal will be presented.

I welcome hearing from you.  If you wish to submit a review idea, please email me at heidi@redheadwithafork.com.  Thank you for reading this blog and sharing it with others you think may enjoy.

Love,

Heidi, Redhead With A Fork