Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My artwork

Untitled stylized figure drawing (Circa 2000)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A little bit of adorable for your Sunday

There's nothing like watching a momma kitty comfort her baby kitty while he's having a dream. This video melts my heart. Love is real.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

We've all had at least one cosmic love in our lifetime

Florence + The Machine is an incredible band. (Thank you to a great friend of mine for introducing me to them!) A few of their songs are among my favorites. This one, entitled Cosmic Love is so powerful and captures the intensity and, at times, turbulence and potency of love (any type of love in life - work, art, passion, relationship, spirituality) and the loss or feeling of being lost that sometimes comes with it.

I think it's important, in order to get the full effect of this song (and the band's music in general), to listen to the whole song with your full attention and just try to feel it and take it in. The music itself, even apart from the lyrics, is so incredible (turn your volume up!) I'm sure many of us have known a love of some sort that has felt like this.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Try this vegan, summery salad

I made a salad the other night that immediately became one of my favorite dishes. Not only is it delicious (my friend and I kept repeating how wonderful it was again and again throughout the evening), it is also incredibly healthy, vegan, and so fresh that it is perfect for the warmer weather. It is full of nutrients, protein, fiber, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates - a perfect meal. I advise you, seriously, to try it out for yourself. I have a feeling it might make your list of favorites, too. (Please note that although there are a number of directions, it really is quite a simple meal to make.)

1.  Put some brown rice on the stove.
2.  Add salt (preferably sea salt) to the rice and boiling water.
3.  Since brown rice takes about 45 minutes to cook, wait about 20 minutes before moving on to the next step.
4.  Boil some water and throw in a good amount of corn (this is half the bulk of the salad). It can be frozen or fresh. (If you are using fresh corn, boil it first and then cut it off the cob after cooking and cooling.) Don't cook the corn for too long - a minute or two is sufficient; You want it to be crisp, not mushy.
5.  Drain the corn, then rinse it with cold water a few times. Next, soak it in cold water (to reduce heat).
6.  Dice one medium-sized red onion and one medium-sized red bell pepper, add to a medium-sized bowl.
7.  Drain the corn again and add to the bowl.
8.  Take a can of butter beans (the other half of the bulk of the salad) and half a can of black soy beans (Eden Organic sells both), rinse, drain, and add to the bowl.
9.  Add some chopped parsley.
10. Add about two tablespoons of olive oil and mix.
11. Dice one avocado and add to the bowl.
12. Add about three tablespoons of sweet red chilli sauce (as I mentioned in a previous post, Thai Kitchen's is my favorite) and mix.
13. Add salt to taste (I like mine somewhat salty, but to each his/her own), and a little bit of pepper.
14. Check that the rice is salted enough (no need to add butter!)
15. Serve a mound of rice on the plate with the summer salad on top. (The warmth and coolness are perfect together.)
16. Enjoy (and let me know what you think!)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Oprah Winfrey, one of my heroines

Tomorrow, May 25th, is the last episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show. I love Oprah. I admit that I rarely get to watch her show, however, I think she is absolutely amazing. She is honest, beautiful inside and out, real, compassionate, educates people, and constantly gives, gives, gives. She created her show with the intent to help others. She is the one person on television who has made me cry more than any other. In fact, pretty much every time I watch her show, I end up crying! 

If you want to be inspired, just read her Wikipedia page, or do a Google search of "Oprah Winfrey impact on the world." This is a woman who donates at least ten percent of her annual income to charity. She started a school in Africa, created a charitable organization, created a network to help others, has given people hope, has impacted others in more ways than I could ever list, and so much more. Rock on, Oprah. You came from hardship, overcame adversity, used your tender heart and passionate energy to do incredible good, and are a total inspiration. You have taken care of so much more than your corner of the world. Thank you. I love you.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

An adorable wedding entrance (that also helps people)

I know that some people may disagree, but I think that this act of dancing to open a wedding ceremony is utterly adorable. First of all, the fact that all of this couple's friends agreed to and enthusiastically participated in this performance demonstrates such a fun, loving attitude towards life and friendship. Second, a couple that wants to have fun and do something entertaining, uplifting, and energetic to celebrate their love is beautiful. Finally, the fact that they did what they wanted, without shame, reservation, or care of what others may think is admirable. They are having fun in their own way.

Additionally, due to the popularity of the video on YouTube, the couple decided to create a link to a website where people can donate money to a charity that helps fight domestic violence. They chose that charity based on the circumstances surrounding Chris Brown (the singer of Forever, the song that they dance to in the video) and Rihanna. As of September, 2010, they had already raised over $34,000. How awesome is that!? I can't tell you how many times I've watched this video. I love it!

(On a little side note, I have no idea if this is true, but I have this small idea that perhaps the bride's father was not present to walk her down the isle, and that maybe this was their solution to that situation. The thought of that makes this display all the more touching.)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Try this stir-fry - delicious AND nutritious

Try this recipe I made up the other night for a yummy, sweet (but with a kick), veggie-filled bite!

1.  Put some brown rice on the stove.
2.  Since brown rice takes about 45 minutes to cook, wait about 30 minutes before moving on to the next step (chop the veggies and set the table while you wait).
3.  Sauté some bok choy with olive oil until it is limp and tender (covering it for a few minutes helps the process by steaming it a little).
4.  Add in diced asparagus and red onion.
5.  Add sweet red chilli sauce (my favorite is the one sold by Thai Kitchen) and continue sautéing.
6.  Throw in some cashew nuts and sunflower seeds.
7.  Pour over brown rice and enjoy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Piiiizzzzza........without cheese?

I have recently been avoiding most dairy in my diet to improve my health (more to come on this later). One of the foods I have been nervous about abstaining from is pizza. I go absolutely nuts for pizza. It's super scrumptious. About a month ago, I purchased a groupon for Domino's Pizza which expires tomorrow. I felt a little bummed because I really do love pizza (did I mentioned that already?) and wasn't sure whether I should give the groupon away or what to do with it. Despite my suspicions that I would loathe a pizza without cheese, I decided to go for it anyway.

I chose their crunchy thin crust, no cheese, and their regular sauce. (Domino's has an ordering system where you can customize your whole order and send it through online - awesome!) Then I decided to load it up with toppings. I chose onions, roasted red peppers, pineapple, jalapeno peppers, spinach, diced tomatoes, mushrooms, and black olives. It was A-MA-ZING. The thin crust was crunchy and satisfying (not soggy), while allowing me to consume less refined flour than their regular crust (which is much thicker). The vegetables were tasty and what really helped was the sweetness of the pineapple coupled with the spiciness of the jalapeno peppers and flavor of the onions.

I realized that I could still enjoy pizza without the cheese. What a fun, yet shocking, discovery. If you are interesting in going this route with your pizza parties, definitely try it out.

Monday, May 16, 2011

My artwork

This piece is part of one of my favorite series of artwork that I made back in 2000. The subject was the human body. Isn't it amazing how atoms come together to form cells that work tirelessly to house the beings that we are? Isn't it awesome how we have this life force in us that moves, grows, and heals with innate intelligence? Beautiful and spiritual, it is.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Can microwavable popcorn make you sick?

Let me just say that the fact that there are carcinogenic chemicals in popcorn bags makes me really upset. Microwavable popcorn - a delightfully delicious snack that I have loved indulging in since I was a child - has supposedly been laced with chemicals from the bag it is popped in!

Dupont is the creator of the dangerous, cancer-causing chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which is used in popcorn bags. Apparently, the company has agreed to work on eliminating these chemicals by 2015. Really?! It's going to take them four more years to work on eliminating the chemical? On top of it, the artificial butter flavoring that is often used in microwavable popcorn has also been identified as disease-causing.

I have understood for a while now that something "artificial" probably is not good for me, but, honestly, for my whole life up until recently, never have I truly realized the fact that some companies are actually poisoning us. However, lucky for us popcorn-lovers, there is an amazing alternative to nasty, unhealthy, disease-causing, commercial, microwavable popcorn that is safe, delicious, and easy to make.

I think all (or most) of us are aware of the old-fashioned stove-method of making popcorn. You coat the bottom of the pan with a good amount of olive oil, pour the kernels in the pot, cover it, turn on the heat, and then watch the popcorn pop deliciously in front of your eyes. I love this method. However, I will be really honest that the cleanup afterward gets on my nerves. Also, you have to use a good amount of olive oil which, although it's good for you, is still fattening if taken in too large of a quantity. On top of it, when I have made popcorn on the stove, I usually like to add other toppings as well, which adds on to the fat/calorie count. I realized today that there is an even easier way to make healthy popcorn that is also safe and does not require the use of any oils.....paper bag it!

That's right. Put some dry kernels, no butter or oil needed, into a brown paper bag, fold down the open end to close the bag, and microwave until the popping starts to slow down. Then, add whatever toppings you desire (my favorite is melted Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread - which is dairy-free - with a little bit of salt and Bragg's Nutritional Yeast.) In the end, you will have a healthy, yummy snack instead of one that, although it may be tasty, is harmful. Enjoy!

Friday, May 13, 2011

You take a piece of me with you

Could I love this song any more than I do right now? Unlikely. What's coming out of my speakers right now is Every Time You Go Away by Paul Young.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Noisy neighbors? Can't sleep? I understand

I am the type of person who needs one of two things when I sleep, either full-on quiet or a consistent rhythmic noise, such as that of a fan. If I become aware of a clock ticking or, worse, an upstairs neighbor walking around, I can't sleep. The more random and inconsistent the sound, the harder it is for me to block it out. 

I struggled with this for a few months when I first moved into my apartment several years ago because I happened to be able to hear every movement of my upstairs neighbor who kept late hours. I would toss and turn in bed, sigh loudly after being woken up by the sound of footsteps just as I was drifting off, and had many conversations with my neighbor about it (who is super nice by the way.) Things improved, but the noise continued to be difficult. I am, unfortunately, not one of those people who can just fall asleep anywhere in any setting or circumstance (although I truly wish I was.) 

Eventually, I made the most amazing discovery: a white noise machine. It totally saved me! Sleep, to me, is precious and I was able to easily get more of it with this gadget. It provides me with a consistent sound that pretty much completely neutralizes or blocks out other noise. I love it, and my less sleep-deprived self thanks me all of the time for buying it. 

If you are having trouble getting to sleep, have someone in the family who snores, have noisy neighbors, or live in a busy neighborhood, I definitely recommend giving a white noise machine a try. You can also check out all the reviews for it on Amazon.com if you are itching for a second opinion. At over 1,350 reviewers and an overall star rating of four and a half out of five, I don't think you can go wrong! Here's to peaceful sleep for all of us.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Monday, May 9, 2011

Makes me want to grow more fearless

What's coming out of my heart and speakers right now is "As Cool As I Am" by Dar Williams. I love the line, "I could teach her how I learned to dance when the music's ended." We all deserve to learn how to dance once the music has ended. We don't even need music to dance. Let's become empowered.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I'm weightless here in my dreams

What's pouring out of my heart and my speakers right now is Weightless by Courtney Jones. This reminds me of the sacredness of life, love, and each moment, no matter what is going on.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am thinking of Martin Luther King, Jr. today. He is one of the great spiritual leaders I really admire. In the face of hatred and violence, he didn't waiver; He didn't react with anger. He acted in love readily and consistently. I hope to be as resilient and sure in my faith and spiritual practice as him someday.

"Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love."  - Martin Luther King, Jr. (Nobel Prize acceptance speech, December 11, 1964)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Osama Bin Laden: an opinion

I do not think Osama Bin Laden should not have been held accountable for his actions. Indeed, I think he was a very sick man, who harmed and discarded many lives and was very angry. This, of course, saddens me immensely. I also understand that I have never lost a loved one at the hostile hand of someone else and can see how revenge might feel like "justice" or "closure." However, I do believe that revenge never truly settles the soul and that it takes someone being connected very spiritually to forgive and channel their feelings towards positive change. I do not mean forgiveness in the sense of believing that what someone did was okay. Rather, I mean forgiveness in the sense that we recognize that love is stronger than hate and that people are sick and damaged, so we choose to love because it is more powerful in causing change. I also believe that it really is the only thing that can settle the soul.

The joyous responses to Osama Bin Laden's ordered death make me feel that there is much to be somber about regarding our current state and outlook on the world and our fellow beings. There is currently what seems to be a predominantly "us" and "them" mindset. It seems like there is this idea that we have no role to play in the aspects of other parts of the world that are negative. There is also an obvious "attack" and "react" pattern. There is a lot of fear at the expense of love. I don't think that this raises us to a higher level, the level of love and compassion that truly will change the amount of hate in the world. We are a part of a collective consciousness and are therefore a part of everything. What are we doing with this part?

Years ago, I heard the Dalai Lama speak at a stadium in New Jersey. It changed my life. When asked by a member of the audience what he felt was the most important thing we could do to change the world, he responded, "Education." I realized that he was right; Until we teach love, and until love is learned, people will continue to be driven by fear. This fear is what causes us, the world, pain and suffering.

Here are some thoughts I admire, either on the death of Osama Bin Laden or from elsewhere that I think can relate to the current situation: 

‎"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy."  (Unknown author, possibly Jessica Dovey)

"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."  (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

A talk on The Death of Bin Laden  (Marianne Williamson) 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

President Obama visits NYC

In preparation for President Obama's arrival and appearance at Ground Zero today, the police force was on high alert in Manhattan.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The beauty of harmonization

What's playing in my heart and coming out of my speakers is "Your House," an Alanis Morissette song covered by Delta Rae.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Some ideas for Mother's Day

If you are tired of giving your mom flowers for Mother's Day and are looking to do something new this year, but can't think of what, consider one of these options:

1. A magazine subscription. It's useful, fun, and can be totally geared to your mother's interests. Check out some good ones at Magazines.com. Fun choices might be House Beautiful, People, Time, Real Simple, or O, The Oprah Magazine.

2. A gift certificate for specific services at a spa or salon. If your mother hasn't gotten her hair done lately or could use a massage or facial, this is something she might really enjoy. Search for a reputable, well-reviewed salon or spa near where she lives and order her a gift certificate. Or, better yet, go get your hair done with her!

3. An experiential gift. Spending time with your mother may be just what she would love most. Perhaps you two can go out to dinner and to the movies. Or, maybe she would enjoy going to a museum, shopping, or for a walk on the beach. You know your mother best, so just think about what she would really enjoy doing and plan something for the two of you to do together.

4. A unique gift certificate for something for her home. Groupon Home and Garden offers different discounts on items for your mother's home that she might love such as professional organization services or customized doormats.

5. A personalized calendar or photo book. Perhaps your mom misses her family members (and you) when they aren't with her. A personalized calendar or photo book might be fun for her to have to keep you close when you aren't around. A few places to start checking these out might be Mixbook or Vistaprint.

6. A surprise get-together. If your mother is someone who, like me, loves surprises, why not gather her closest loved ones and have a surprise gathering? You could plan to arrange a nice brunch at someone's house for her, or have it at a restaurant. Either way, she is sure to feel special when she realizes people have come to celebrate her.

7. A personalized piece of jewelry. Etsy is a web-based company that has thousands of creative vendors who sell gorgeous jewelry. Beazuness is an example of one of their unique sellers. A lot of Beazuness's work is personalized and geared towards mothers. For example, one particular necklace of hers, called Silver Branch From Your Family Tree, that was given to my sister when her second child was born, is particularly gorgeous, elegant, affordable, and can be personalized for your own mother.

Hopefully, one of these ideas can be of help to you, but if not, there are always plenty of websites that have other gift ideas, such as Gifts.com. In the end though, whatever you do to express your feelings for your mother, whether it is a card, gift, visit, phone call, or day of remembrance (for those who have passed), the most important thing is to do it with love and gratitude in your heart, and remember that it is not the gift, but really the thought (and the feeling behind it) that counts.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I love it! How fun!

Beyonce just released an adorable music video in support of Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign which was created to help end childhood obesity. The video is super cute and features the song Move Your Body performed by Beyonce in a school cafeteria with a bunch of kids dancing with her. It is so much fun and for a great cause. I'm sure it will make you smile, too. However, I just have one question... How does she dance like that in those heels?!