Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last thoughts of 2011...

As I was waking up this morning, thinking about the events of last night, it finally hit me that after tonight, this year is over.  That we will be welcoming 2012.  Maybe it's just me, but that's kind of crazy.  

Anyway, I got to thinking about how this year changed my perspective on life and the world around me.  

  • A year ago, I was mourning the loss of a great job and would soon find out what it meant to unemployed.  How my amazing family and friends refused to let me get discouraged when I thought that I would never find a job.  I have an even deeper love and appreciation for each and every one of them.
  • How, in those four and half months, I was able to finish writing the first draft of my second book.  (And haven't stopped writing.)
  • After saying over and over that I would never work for a government entity again, but did when I got a job with Meridian Township and somehow finding a new quirky work "family".  
  • Being able to go on two trips when many people couldn't afford to take one.
  • Being healthy

As we welcome in the new year, don't forget about all the lessons, rises and falls of 2011 and remember how those moments have changed your life for the better.  

Carrying with you the good....

As I get ready for my day, I leave you with the words of William Arthur Ward:  

Another fresh new year is here . . .
Another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt, and fear,
To love and laugh and give!

This bright new year is given me
To live each day with zest . . .
To daily grow and try to be
My highest and my best!

Have a Safe and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Remember This Everyday...

I had to borrow this from my sister's page...Thanks, Hill!

Friday, December 2, 2011

An Honest Moment

***Look, I am going to be so honest right now.  A tad bit more than I ever have and if you're not ready for it, then keep on moving.  If not, keep reading.***

On my first Friday night at home in a while, I got a chance to watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, one of those shows that requires a box of Kleenex to get through it.  Each episode tells a family's story and sometimes, it's one that anyone can relate to.  Tonight's episode was one of those.  This episode was one where a young boy committed suicide after being pushed over the edge by bullying.  He was 11 years old...his life hadn't even started.

Instead of focusing solely on the lose of her son, his mother has traveled all over Massachusetts and to Washington DC to fight against bullying.  Her oldest daughter is following in her footsteps, even as she starts her freshman year of college.  Her sister battles depression from losing her nephew.  I can't even imagine how they feel or what they're going through, but I spent the entire episode in tears.

Everyone that was on the show had been bullied at one point or another and I'm pretty sure you were.  

I was.  

The guests on this show included the Kardashian Sisters and Demi Lovato, a newer artist.  Khloe tells the family that because she looked different, thicker and taller than her sisters, she was bullied while she was growing up.  The sisters took the college freshman on a shopping spree...yeah, it was Sears, but it was the idea that they took care of her.  Then they helped the show organize an event with Demi, who was also bullied, to promote anti-bullying.

I'm not going to lie and say that it didn't help shape me into becoming the person that I am, because it did.  All for not being in the popular crowd and for being quiet or looking like everyone else.  Unlike this poor child, I didn't give up and I'm fairly certain had they known, that my family and friends wouldn't have let me give up.  

My point??

Bullying is a real problem....a deadly problem that is affecting the children around us.  What's ridiculous is that it's usually over something as minor as looks, race, opinions, jealousy, anything.  So let's think about how this affected us at one time and consider joining the fight against bullying.  

I leave you with these words: 
Some people won't be happy until they've pushed you to the ground. What you have to do is have the courage to stand your ground and not give them the time of day. Hold on to your power and never give it away.”
― Donna Schoenrock

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thursday Thought

"Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together. 
~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

As I was leaving Beaners, or should I say, Bigby, earlier this evening, an older woman who was with her daughter made it a point to hold the door open for me.  Something as simple as this stuck with me for one simple reason.  Not because some people are just like that, which I can understand, but because of the season we have officially entered into.  Twenty days from now is Christmas. 

I'm sure you're thinking "'re point being?"

I'm getting there.

This is the time of year when people are a little more patient with perfect strangers.  It's the little things like holding the door open, that smile or nod hello, being a little extra generous with our change when we see the bell ringers outside of the stores.  The list goes on, but I think you get my point.  I have always wondered why we do this as adults.  Is it because deep down inside, there is still a part of us that feels that maybe one of those deeds will make you look better in the eyes of others, like we did as children when we believed Santa was watching to make sure we were good.  That the better we were, the better our gifts.  In a way, it would make sense.

Or could it be that this is how we would like to be the other eleven months out of the year and that it is just a little more convenient or accepted during this time of year?  

Regardless of the reason, I wish that this attitude would continue all 365 days of the year, rather than just the month of December.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Slight Dilemma

Okay, so I have decided to FINALLY cut my hair. I mean, all but a few inches of it. Over the years, I have killed it with my horrible habits, so now its time to chop it off and start all over. So, here is the problem: I don't know what to do with it! I've found a few that could work, but I'm going to need an opinion or seven.  Here is what I've found so far...  (Ignore the faces)

Thoughts or suggestions?

My Chat With Sidney Poitier

During my trip to Chicago a couple weeks ago, I found a copy of Sidney Poitier's 'The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual  Biography" tucked away in a corner.  Considering everything I had heard and read about him, I knew this book would be worth my time.  Within the first 20 pages, I felt that it should be called more than just a spiritual biography because as I read each page, I felt like he was sitting down at the table across from me, telling me his story; how he paved the way for oh, so many black actors and actresses that would later grace the stages and screens.  More often than not, I found myself nodding, replying to his questions and agreeing with his various comments and statements.

Each chapter had parts in it that made me think and consider re-evaluating my life.  Made me think about how truly blessed I was to live in the time that I do.  I love that every time that he was told that he couldn't do something because of the color of his skin or his lack of experience, he gracefully proved the naysayers wrong.  He would go down as the first black to win an Academy Award for a starring role.  

His story proves that your past doesn't determine where you're going or who you are.  It's your attitude and how you handle each situation.  This man could have given up when the theater manager told him that he knew nothing about acting, when he was homeless and broke or when things got rough, but he didn't.  Towards the end, he said that he didn't understand why prostate cancer took the life of his old friend in the 1990's, while his life was spared.  He said this just after he said there were aspects of theater that he still had yet to do.  As I read this, I think he was spared because he still had so much to do.  He still had books to write, experience to share with the next generations and a life to finish living.  

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely.  It wasn't just a book of race, but one of determination and hope.  Two qualities that everyone needs.

If I'm remembered for having done a few good things and if my presence here has sparked some good energies, that's plenty.

– Sidney Poitier

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tonight's Attempt

Okay, I know it has been a while since I have posted a new recipe attempt on here. There was nothing stopping me other than the fact that I have been avoiding anything that included cooking with more than three ingredients or cereal...pure laziness.  So I decided this week, I would make up for that.  As I eat my newest attempt, I figured I may as well talk about it.  

Fettuccine with Black Olive Pesto and Scallions

Okay, so first off, I was more than a little iffy about this one.  So much that I made Alfredo sauce as a plan b.  Shockingly, I didn't need it.  Before this, I usually stayed away from jalapenos, but this is what added the kick that made an already good dish better.   It also helps that it is one that doesn't take too long to make.  The pesto consists of black olives and juice, thyme, chopped onion, parsley, garlic, red wine vinegar and, yes, olive oil.  I cheated a little bit and used dried thyme, but I think it worked out.  The only thing that I really skipped was the scallions...forgot to pick some up.   Oops!

At the end of the day, this was has been added to my list of dishes to make again and believe me, that's saying something.  Next time, the plan is to try it with a tomato mozzarella salad with vinaigrette dressing.  

Would I recommend it?  Absolutely!  

I have long believed that good food, good eating is all about risk. Whether we’re talking about unpasteurized Stilton, raw oysters or working for organized crime ‘associates,’ food, for me, has always been an adventure.—–Anthony Bourdain

Monday, October 17, 2011

Functionally Dysfunctional

Of all the posts that I started, but didn't post, this is the one that has been nagging at me the most.  Maybe it's the fact that its a semi feel good post and sometimes, I just have to post one of these.

A week or two ago, one of my coworkers said to me one morning, "If you don't like the people that you work with, then maybe it's time for you to find another job.  You will spend more time with them than anyone else, including your significant other."

Wow!  He couldn't be more right.  We spend about 45 hours a week at work, whether we like it or not and in order to get through the week, we have to deal with each other.  These are the people who often see almost every side of you and at the end of the day, become like a family.  You may fight it with all your might, but it's true.  I speak my first words of the day to them, vent my frustrations, swap shortened versions of stories, laugh with them.  These people have seen me knocked out in the break room when I am so tired that I can't keep my eyes open during lunch.  They are the ones who have to deal with me BEFORE I have any food or caffeine in my system.  Brave souls, I say.

In the six months that I have been with this place, I have come to like most, if not all, of my coworkers for various reasons.  I wonder if the main reason is the fact that it is not overrun with drama, being that most of the people that I work with are men or insanely cool women.  That if there is an issue, they call each other out on their crap, talk it out and move on.  Or could it be that they just genuinely like each other.  When I started, it's like I was accepted into the fold without question once I made it clear that I would let them do their jobs, be there for support and not add any unnecessary drama.  Like any family, they want to find out what the have in common and see what they can include you in.  Kickball, gun range, dinner and drinks after work, possible movie nights, debates, lunch, coffee runs...etc.  

Last week, I found myself defending "my people" when someone from another division made a crack at them.  Silly, but that's when I realized that I had claimed them as my own.  I have no idea when that happened, but I really don't see the point in fighting it.  

Of course, each person has their quirks that drive the other people crazy.  Lack of communication, forcing others to pick up the slack when they decide not to do the work or show up, moodiness.  These things happen, but what family doesn't have to deal with this?

At the end of the day, it's what brings them closer. 

At the end of the day, they have each other's backs.

It's what makes them a functionally dysfunctional family and I consider myself lucky to be included.

Monday Randoms

In the past week or two, I have started a few different blog posts, thinking that I would post them later.  As you can see none of them have made it on here unfortunately.  So here is a quick update on the life of Shareece:

  • Decided to visit Chicago next month during the long weekend, thanks to Veterans Day
  • Read an article about men pole dancing for sport.  Yes, you read that right....pole dancing!  These guys now have their own competitions now.  Like most people, I find this just a little disturbing.
  • I'm thinking that my mini writing break may be over.  After Thanksgiving, I'm thinking about taking a weekend, closing myself up in a room and work on my second book.  We'll see how that goes.
  • I have totally slacked off on trying a new dish every week or so.  Hell, I've slacked off on my no meat during the week rule for myself.  Last week, I was terrible and now, it's time to get back on track
  • Slowly but surely, I've been taking more time for myself and I think that it's beginning to show with the people who call me impatient and find it hard to deal with me.
Out of all the blog posts that I started, but didn't pos

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hometown Rivalry

While I was checking Facebook this morning, this caught my eye:


Working in an office near MSU full of UM fans, let's just say that I will not be passing this one around. 

It just amazes me how far some people will take this rivalry.  It's almost like a war.  Homes are divided until the last second of the game.  Feelings will be hurt.  All over a freaking football game?  To some, this may seem crazy, but to a sports fan, UM and MSU fans, its just how things go.  A way of life.

With that said, I say:


Monday, October 3, 2011

Diverse Upbringing

Great achievements are not born from a single vision but from the combination of many distinctive viewpoints. Diversity challenges assumptions, opens minds, and unlocks our potential to solve any problems we may face. -- Unknown
Last weekend, my family and I went to the Apple Festival at Wolcott Cider Mill and Winery.  We have gone almost every year since we moved back to Michigan in the early '90's.  Over the years, it has really expanded (the winery was added in the last few years) and the crowds have gotten larger.  For my family, it has become a yearly tradition that we have all come to enjoy. 

While we were sitting in the barn area eating donuts and got to talking about how more often than not, we would visit museums and aquarium's when traveling or in the cities around us and go to festivals like this one.  It was just how Mom and Dad raised us, despite the fact that they weren't.  When we were little, they would just put us in a car and they would find things to do just because they wanted to and now that all of us are older, its like second nature.  We never felt like it was forced upon us, but how things are supposed to go.  Maybe this is why we are all as tolerant of different cultures and people. 

A good example of this is during the conversation, a country song came on that I knew and had recently downloaded and I started singing along with it, while still listening to the conversation.  Jay stopped the conversation and asked, "Are you seriously singing this song?"  They all know that I will listen to anything if it sounds good.  Mom just said that it's just like what we are talking about, how you have to be open to anything.  Music included. 

In today's world, I feel like is it an advantage to have a diverse upbringing where almost anything is tolerated and is almost necessary.  Even more so as a minority, whether it be racial, gender, whatever.  As I look back, I love that I was raised this way and know that if I ever had a family, I would continue this way of thinking and set the same example that my parents did.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A little while ago, I submitted my book for the second time since I started this blog.  As soon as I hit submit, I've got to say, I was anything but relieved.  Self doubt had poked it horrid little head as I watched the the confirmation page pop up.

What if they hate it and say no?
What if they say yes?  
What do  I do then?

Wait...STOP!  This means that I have taken a huge step in the writing process.  

Did I know that there would be moments of self doubt along the way?  Of course I did and that's all this is.

Now, I feel like this is just a step in the right direction.  Now, the search is on for me to look for other publishers who are accepting work from new writers.  It's time!  Marie Curie seems to put it the best:

“We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something. ”
Now that that's done, at least for the next week or so, I need to get back to my attempt to cut out meat and trying different dishes.  

Earlier this week, I did make 4 cheese baked ziti and have decided to make it again soon.  I think what I really liked about this was how easy it was and being that I am barely ever home, this is perfect for my type of lifestyle.  I'll admit that I did cheat.  The recipe asked for few different white cheeses, but I used an Italian mix, which had all three mixed in.  I think it worked out well.  I am not entirely sure I would use half and half that it called for again, mainly because of the loud milky smell that I could almost do without.   I did like the kick that the red pepper added though.

Thumbs up in my book!

Have a great weekend! 

Monday, September 19, 2011

What is wrong with me?!

Last year, I said that my goal for 2011 was to resubmit my first book.  Guess who has yet to do so?  Yeah, that would be me.  Last night, or should I say this morning, I couldn't sleep, so I started going through to see who I could send my work to and came across one of the publishers who I had looked into earlier.  They only accept manuscripts 3 times a year.  Yes, you read that right.  September is the last time they will accept anything until next year.  Being that it is September 19th, I need to get my act together and get that out before next Friday!  

I just can't believe that I forgot something as important as that.  Time to get back to work!

Enjoy the rest of your dreary Monday.

Same Words, Different Voice

While I was getting ready for work this morning, the article about MI's new governor pushing for a healthier Michigan popped in my head and like I had when I read the article last week, I shook my head.  Careful not to drop the scorching hot curling iron on myself, mind you.  I shake my head at everything and everyone, but this was a little different.  This was a "Are you freaking kidding me?" kind of head shake.  People who know me know which one I'm talking about.

Let me just say this: I hate politics because most of these people in office are really in it for the name recognition and perks, rather than representing the people who elected them or to make the changes that they claimed that they would fight for when they were elected.  Mind you, I said "most" not all, because there are some who really do want to make a difference and those are the ones who I have some serious respect for.  I mean, I worked for one for over five years. 

Back to the point here.

So, in this article, Governor Snyder was speaking at an event in Grand Rapids last week about making it so that Michigan was healthier and how the state needs to pay more attention to what we are feeding the children.  How Michigan is the 8th in the nation as far as obesity problems.  Then he turns around and announces to the crowd that he needs to lose a few pounds himself since he is considered overweight. 

Raising hand

If I remember correctly, Governor Granholm, his predecessor, tried to push the same thing while she was in office.  She tried to lead by example by biking to work, running across the Mackinac Bridge with the citizens of this state every year, promoting a healthier lifestyle, but yet, this was ignored.  Oh, but let this new governor say the same thing and it's okay.  It is accepted.  I guess I don't quite understand the difference. 

Could it be that it is easier for people to listen to the same message a second time by a different voice or by someone who will be going through the same struggles as the public?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Where Did The Time Go?'s almost Fall.  Oh my goodness, it's almost FALL!!!  Why am I so excited about this you ask?  Well, it mean a couple things.  Time for donuts and cider as well as Fall season premiere's.  It seems like just last week, we were watching Castle scrambling to knock Beckett out of the way before she was shot and telling her that he was in love with her as she was fading.  That Bones told Booth that she was pregnant with their child.  That JJ came back to the BAU on Criminal Minds after being shown the door at the beginning of the season.  That H and Natalia were nearly killed in the season finale on CSI:Miami. 

I mean, I could go on, but I won't.  Can you tell I am super excited about these shows?  Well, until I get to the fact that Bones doesn't come back on until November 3rd, but even that could be worse.

The only thing that I am a little antsy about is the NBA season.  This time of year, we, the fans, should be watching as the teams get ready for the preseason, finalize the rosters and so on.  Instead, we are watching as the players union and the owners battle back and forth about money.  Whatever happened to playing for the love of the game while being paid in the 5,6 figures?  This way of thinking has been the cause of a lot of issues in this league and is now starting to trickle into the NCAA.  I understand that playing professionally can be stressful and take a toll on their bodies, but come on!  Stop playing around, get the work done so that there is a season! 

With the cool weather coming up, it means staying closer to home or near the fireplace at the library...meaning that I will be catching up on some writing.  Not just keeping up with this, but some serious, "work on my book" writing.

Stay warm, friends!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where were you?

On my way home a few nights, I was thinking about the fact that 9/11 was only a few days away.  I think that day will always hold some type of place in my heart, as well as others, due to the blow that was dealt when those planes were hijacked and slammed into the twin towers, the Pentagon building and a field in Pennsylvania.  The United States was not prepared for this type of attack, but did its best to bounce back.  Hundreds were killed, while hundreds more are still waiting to be identified.  This day reminded our young nation that we were not invincible.

This day also did two things: It brought the people together while alienating and discriminating the Arab American population for being who they were.  It forced us to open our eyes in one area and step back in how we treated each other in another.  Is that fair?  Absolutely not, especially when Arab Americans were victims like anyone else that day.  

I remember when it happened, I was getting ready to walk into my third hour class during my senior year of high school, almost every teacher had their televisions turned onto the news to watch replays of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers and hearing students talk about how they had a loved one who worked one of the towers that were shown collapsing on the screen.  Not knowing anyone in either tower, and later the Pentagon and Pennsylvania, my prayers still went out to the people who were there and the families who would never see their loved ones again, due to this tragedy.  

A few years ago, I was in Washington DC visiting KT Mac and we went to the Pentagon's 9/11 Memorial and I couldn't help by get a little choked up when I saw where the building had been rebuilt after that day.  Seeing the memorial made things a little more real to me, maybe because to see it on television and the news was one thing, but to see it in person was totally different.  Seeing the names and ages throughout the memorial was something that no one should ever have to see, but I have to admit that it was so beautifully done.

Ten years ago, this nation was attacked out of hatred, pulled into an unnecessary war and lashed out at its own citizens who just happened to look like their attackers.  At the same time, our beautiful nation came together and supported those families who lost (or nearly lost) a loved one, gave props to the heroes (policemen, firemen, and common folk who thought about more than themselves) that day and continues to try to move on, never forgetting.

Before I call it quits, I am going to leave you with a beautiful poem that Billy Collins wrote  in memory of this tragic day called "The Names".

Yesterday, I lay awake in the palm of the night.
A soft rain stole in, unhelped by any breeze,
And when I saw the silver glaze on the windows,
I started with A, with Ackerman, as it happened,
Then Baxter and Calabro,
Davis and Eberling, names falling into place
As droplets fell through the dark.
Names printed on the ceiling of the night.
Names slipping around a watery bend.
Twenty-six willows on the banks of a stream.
In the morning, I walked out barefoot
Among thousands of flowers
Heavy with dew like the eyes of tears,
And each had a name --
Fiori inscribed on a yellow petal
Then Gonzalez and Han, Ishikawa and Jenkins.
Names written in the air
And stitched into the cloth of the day.
A name under a photograph taped to a mailbox.
Monogram on a torn shirt,
I see you spelled out on storefront windows
And on the bright unfurled awnings of this city.
I say the syllables as I turn a corner --
Kelly and Lee,
Medina, Nardella, and O'Connor.
When I peer into the woods,
I see a thick tangle where letters are hidden
As in a puzzle concocted for children.
Parker and Quigley in the twigs of an ash,
Rizzo, Schubert, Torres, and Upton,
Secrets in the boughs of an ancient maple.
Names written in the pale sky.
Names rising in the updraft amid buildings.
Names silent in stone
Or cried out behind a door.
Names blown over the earth and out to sea.
In the evening -- weakening light, the last swallows.
A boy on a lake lifts his oars.
A woman by a window puts a match to a candle,
And the names are outlined on the rose clouds --
Vanacore and Wallace,
(let X stand, if it can, for the ones unfound)
Then Young and Ziminsky, the final jolt of Z.
Names etched on the head of a pin.
One name spanning a bridge, another undergoing a tunnel.
A blue name needled into the skin.
Names of citizens, workers, mothers and fathers,
The bright-eyed daughter, the quick son.
Alphabet of names in a green field.
Names in the small tracks of birds.
Names lifted from a hat
Or balanced on the tip of the tongue.
Names wheeled into the dim warehouse of memory.
So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart. 

So I ask this: Where were you on this tragic day? 

On a sidenote: I have no idea why the first paragraph is highlighted. Have a great week! 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Friendly Thought

You know, there was a time when I thought mixing friends from different circles was something that you just shouldn't do, mainly because you just never know if they will get along or not.  After a few attempts at mixing these groups over the past few years have been somewhat of a success mainly because most of the people that I am friends with are similar to me in some way or another.

Last night, I met up for dinner and drinks with Randelle and Amy, to celebrate my birthday and had a blast.  Let me give you a little background on these two.  I have known Randelle since middle school and for the most part, we are pretty similar, including brothers who were the same age and similar family dynamics.  I met Amy while working in the Governor's Office in 2005, but didn't become friends with her until Summer of 2006 when we found out that the glares were really 'I can't hear you's.  Since then, she and I have become really good friends.  

Back to the point...

Well, last night, talking to them was almost like talking to two other versions of myself and the fact that they got along as though they known each other forever was awesome.  Maybe I feel this way because of the fact that these are two of the three friends that I would go to when I need a second, third or fourth opinion and who I can count on to call me out on my crap when I need it.  I am a believer in the fact that your friends are a reflection of yourself because all I have to do is look at the people that I keep around me.

When we were getting ready to leave, Amy said, "I hate that not everyone showed up tonight."  In response to this, I said, "Not really.  The people that I really wanted to be here were here."  Now that I think about it, we were missing one person: KT Mac. 

After things finally quieted down last night, I realized that some people would consider them crazy to be friends with me, since I am not always the easiest person to get along with.  I don't agree.  I consider myself blessed to have them in my life, because, other than my family, they make me a better person.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Goodbye 26!

“Maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had, and what you've learned from them, and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.”  ~Unknown
In the final hours of 26, I can't help but wonder where the time went.  It's like it was just yesterday I was back in the Appointments hoping to avoid telling my earliest birthday moment with my work family surrounding me in Jim's Office.  I remember thinking how incredibly sad it was that this would be the last birthday memory with many of those people.  

Is it possible that it has been eight months since I stood outside of the Romney Building with Amy and Jessica, saying our final goodbyes to the office?  How I managed to finish writing my second book during those insanely long 4 1/2 months of unemployment or starting another job the day after Easter outside of the Governor's Office.  

I have to admit that this year was a little different for me, but I find that maybe different and pushed a little out of my element is what I needed.  Not all of it has been great or something that I would wish on someone else, but situations that will now make me think twice.  Like driving after it has taken me more than an hour to scrape the snow and ice off my car after a horrible snow storm or watching what I say to the people around me, when I know for a fact that they won't take my jokes as jokes, but disrespect.

In the next year, I would like to make a few changes.  Not really changing who I am, because that will never happen, but change how I do things.  Like eating better, know when to keep my comments to myself or working on my patience with people even when all I want to do is tell them to go somewhere.  Or putting a little more effort in my writing and posting on this more often.

I remember telling KT Mac that I wanted to stay 26 another year, but now that I think about it, I don't know what I was thinking.  Well, other than the fact that 27 is another year closer to 30.  Now, I think that I should consider 27 as year of new beginnings, a clean slate.

So, to my family, who put up with me day after day, good or bad, you are saints in my eyes.  To my friends, there are days when I don't know what I would do without you and consider you a blessing.

Here's to 27!

Late Night Final Thoughts

  • Tried my hand at felafel burgers tonight and goodness, let's just say that that attempt was a messy, slightly frustrating failure.  My kitchen was a mess, with flour and mashed chickpeas all over the counter, but whatever.  At the end of the day though, I'm okay with this.  I tried it and may try again another time and do things a little differently, but for now, I will leave that one to the professionals.  Ha!  
  • I knew the basics of cooking before I started this whole thing, but this has been a serious test of skill and patience.  This has also taught me to branch out a bit and try different recipes that I wouldn't normally.   
  • Can I just say that I have never used as much olive oil as I have since I started this?  I know its good for you and a better substitute than most, but wow! 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Racial Tolerance

Last week, I had dinner with a friend who I have known for...well, forever, and we got to talking about racial ignorance, a topic that I feel like we've talked about on and off for years.  Coming from areas where various races are known to date and marry outside of their races, we have accepted the fact that judging a person by their appearance is unacceptable nowadays.  Not that it ever should have been acceptable, but I guess that's some serious water under the bridge. 

The reason why I bring this up is that we were talking about a former acquaintance of ours who was just plain ignorant and even more so when it came to race.  She made a comment on how she would never date, much less marry, outside of her race, especially a white guy.  Interesting.  Someone at the table called her out on this, which I hate that I missed.  Another incidence was shortly after the president was elected into office.  She commented on how his victory was one that should only be celebrated by blacks, not whites or any other race.  To this day, I disagree with every fiber of my being, because that is so far from the truth.  I had gotten so fed up with her "white/black" comments at that point that I tore my attention from the NBA game that had been on at the time and told her, "The election was not about white and black, but about people wanting a change from what we had been dealing with for the past 8 years.  That this was not just a victory for blacks, but for everyone, no matter the race or party."  More had been said, but either way, as soon as I had finished talking, I turned back to the game in progress, leaving her shocked beyond belief that someone had called her out on her inappropriate and even inaccurate comments.  By the way, she was also the same person who had not even voted in that election.  So does that mean that she really had no right to celebrate this victory?

The point that I am trying to make is that for this world, country, state, city and even our families to survive is to realize that just because a person doesn't look like us, doesn't mean that they may not be going through the same things we are.  That our intolerance for other cultures and races will hurt us more than help.  I know that we have a long way to go and its not going to happen over night, but it's something to think about.  I think Dr. King had it right.

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Two Interesting Attempts

Tonight, I tried the cucumber sandwich, which was a little different, but I am all for anything with avocado.  This was the first time I dealt with pepperoncini and it is definitely an acquired taste.  I have found that you will either love it or hate it, and I am on the "hate it" side.  Even the smell even stays in your nose long after you close the jar or move the uneaten portion of the sandwich away.  The cucumbers and lettuce added that needed crunch that this sandwich needed.  

If you try this, I will make a couple suggestions.
  1. Make sure you like pepperoncini.  If so, good...if not, maybe substitute them with banana peppers. 
  2. The cream cheese may be a little much especially with the mashed avocado...I would consider leaving it out.
As with any recipe, tweek it to your liking.  I think if I try this again, I would skip the wheat bread and try it in a pita because it can get a little messy. 

Recommendation: Try's a different taste and is actually kind of filling, not to mention healthy for you.

The second thing that I tried was olive oil, tomato, and basil pasta.  This was pretty quick and easy dish, or should I say side dish, to throw together in the summer.  I would suggest that if you try this to add a few more tomatoes that suggested and even a few more veggies, such as broccoli, cucumbers or whatever you might want.  With just the tomatoes and basil, it wasn't too bad, but it wasn't quite enough.  It tastes better cold, so this could be something that could be thrown together the night before and eaten for lunch the next day with, let's say, a cucumber sandwich.

Recommendation: It was okay, but I don't see why it came highly recommended in my recipe search.  This is definitely one where winging it is a better way to go, rather than following the recipe.  

Note: If you haven't already noticed, olive oil is a huge ingredient in both items, so....I really hope you like olive oil.  It is better than using butter and if used in moderation, it is really good for you.  
  1. Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease
  2. Helps reduce blood pressure
  3. Has shown beneficial effects on ulcers and gastritis
  4. Eases or prevents diabetes
  5. Lessens the severity of asthma or arthritis
  6. Can possibly help in the prevention of colon cancer
  7. Moisturizes skin and slows the aging process
Interesting, right?

Since I've started this, I have found that the most challenging part is sharing a meal with other people who don't think twice about eating meat.  I am still looking for ways to share a meal with them without slipping back into my old habits now that I know that going back and forth like that isn't great for the stomach.  (At least, not mine.)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Let's Try Something New

A few weeks ago, I decided to take, what some would consider, an almost drastic step and try out a semi vegetarian lifestyle.  I wrote about this when I started, but deleted it because I was a little unsure about it.  After a few weeks of trying out different things and seeing how I feel about it, I thought now would be a better time to write about it. 

What made me decide to do this?  Each year, my family participates in the church fast during the first 40 days of every year and usually the one thing that I give up is meat.  After the 40 days are up, I usually cut down on the amount of meat (especially red meat) that I eat and usually don't miss it.  I mean, yes, there are days when I am seriously craving a steak or something, but that's anyone who is raised with the idea that most meals are not complete with some kind of meat.

Like a lot of people who consider this lifestyle, I have done and am still doing plenty of research on this, trying to do it the right way.  Am I giving up meat entirely?  Absolutely not, but I am cutting down on my intake.  In the time I have started, I have noticed that I don't crave meat the way I used to and when I do eat it, it's almost a treat.  I have also noticed that if I overdo it, I have gotten sick.  Who would have ever thought that something that most families were raised on could do this?

When I first told my parents that I was leaning toward trying this, the first thing they asked was how did I plan on getting my necessary nutrients, like protein.  (This is after they asked if I was dieting.)  Please know that this was one of the first few questions that I asked when I first started and have found that if you really pay attention to what you eat everyday, you can find it quite a few items, some that you really like, are good sources of it.  And its not like you have to stick with just salads and vegetables, although, this is not a bad thing.  There are various meat substitutes that are almost as good as the real thing and a lot of recipes that are geared toward people who want to branch out.  
So far I have learned two things.  Being a semi vegetarian has forced me to consider food that I wouldn't normally and have found that it's not so bad. Meat substitutes, such as Boca burgers and "chicken" sandwiches, which are soy products and a great source of protein, are almost as good as their meat counterparts.  The different veggie companies have even shocked me with their combinations and their ability to make people, like me, want to try their products.  The second thing being that, unlike a lot vegetarians, I cannot give up dairy or eggs.  I get that they are animal products, but I'm giving up meat...isn't that enough?  

There was a third thing that I have learned, but I have decided that it is soooo inappropriate for this blog and I'm sure you would think less of me. 

As I start this, I have decided to share what I learn and the different recipes that I try on here, hoping that someone else can learn from any mistakes that I may make along the way or even try out the dishes that I may.  Or even offer some words of advice.  

So, here we go!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Shift in the Music Universe

Last week, while I was flipping through the channels, I caught a few minutes of a country music rocks concert thing on ABC while Jason Aldean was singing/rapping the "Dirt Road Anthem".  A country singer trying to rap?!  Or should I say a country singer trying to cross genres?  Is that even allowed?  15 years ago, the rap and country communities would have had a fit, as would their listeners and they would almost be correct.  But what about today?

I went on line to see if this was, in fact, a real song and found that he had went a step further and remade the song with rapper/actor, Ludacris, aka Chris Bridges, and had performed the song at the CMT Music Awards earlier this year.  Has country music become a genre to which rap and r&b is now okay to collaborate with?

When "Over and Over" featuring Tim McGraw was released in 2004 on Nelly's "Suit" album, quite a few of Nelly's followers were shocked that he would even collaborate with a popular country singer.  Was he abandoning his roots?  No, he was just trying something different that really worked out for him.  On YouTube, this video alone has almost 12 million hits and was #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart!  Not bad, I say!

Taylor Swift and T-Pain...

Snoop and Willie Nelson...

Jamie Foxx and Rascal Flatts...

Just to name a few.

Collaborations like these forces listeners to give country (or even rap or r&b) music a second chance.  That maybe, a least for me, country music isn't so bad and check out their other songs.  Yeah, I know that this would probably go against everything that you have been taught, but maybe its time to rock the boat a little and listen to other genres of music.  You may find a few artists or groups that become new favorites. 

I guess my point is that as times change, so do music tastes.  Now, it is becoming almost acceptable for country and rap stars to share the stage without being forced, bringing along their listeners and showing the world that these collaborations not only work, but are just the beginning. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

No 2011-2012 NBA Season?!

Since the end of the NBA Finals, basketball has been the last thing on my mind.  I'm starting to think that may make me a terrible NBA fan.  I mean, I really should be worried about how my Detroit Pistons will do this year in yet another rebuilding year or if the Mavs can pull a repeat.  Can Kobe win a championship without the Zen master/ one of the greatest coaches the game has ever seen?  Personally, I don't think so, but don't tell Jay I said that!  

In the two months since the season ended and the final draft picks were announced, the NBA became a distant memory.  The lockout went into effect on July 1st and as of a few days ago, the president of the players association and even the league president have announced that there may not even be an NBA season because the negotiations aren't going as well as most would hope.  A year without NBA basketball?! 

Once I recovered, I considered this: the same thing was said during the lockout in 1998, but fortunately for everyone involved, the season wasn't totally lost.  Yeah, there were only 40, 45 games, but let me tell ya, that's better than nada. 

So I'm wondering, are the presidents correct, the season being cancelled or will it be like the 1998-1999 season and a deal be made at the last second a month and half into the season?  Could it be like the NFL lockout that came to an agreement just as the NBA lockout began and make the necessary agreements before the season is to begin?  I would LOVE the last option, but you know how things go.  So for now, I am preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

Also, on a side note, no Bones until freaking November!  I mean, yeah, the spin off will be on in place of THE SHOW in the mean time, but I was really hoping to see a pregnant Brennan, with a cheesing Booth next month.  Maybe Castle, Criminal Minds will hold me over with a little CSI Miami, NY and Blue Bloods sprinkled in there in the meantime.  *Sigh*

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Happy Friendship Day!

To my real friends, 

You are true saints in my eyes for dealing with me and I am blessed to have you in my life! 
“This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life.”

Sunday Night Picture

I like to believe that it's the little things that go a long way.  

Have a great week!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

If you had told me three weeks ago that I would actually be writing this, I would give you a classic Tiffany look and call you crazy without saying a word.  Then today, I would eat my words and hate you for being right.  

Less than an hour ago, I finished reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.  Before I give my two cents on this book, I feel that I need to point something out about the author that I thought was morbidly interesting.  Just before he passed away in 2004, Larsson finished this trilogy without any intention of having them published and one of the main characters in his books is based on young woman he witnessed being gang raped when he was 15.  Reading a little blurb about him, I've got to say that I can relate to him mainly because he started writing for one of the main reasons I did: as a way to unwind each day.  Also, it is said that he left an unfinished fourth book, and the beginnings to a fifth and sixth book.  Crazy!

So, I have to say, the first 200, 300 pages were almost painfully boring and made me consider putting this book down and continue reading The Divine Comedy.  I have found that most books that start out this way usually picked up half way through the book and the reader usually has to hold on for dear life for the rest of the book and that was definitely the case.  The story was insanely written, despite the fact that this was originally written in Swedish.  It is a murder mystery about an old man who turns to a journalist who has just been burned to find out what happened to his niece thirty years ago. This one kept me guessing until the very end.  Who I thought could be the crazy person wasn't who it turned out to be.  What I loved about this book is that it leads right into the next book, The Girl Who Played With Fire, which I will be reading as soon as I can get my hands on it. 

I really don't want to say too much about the story because I want more people to read this.  Unlike some of the book series that are out there, I would actually recommend this one for two reasons...well, three actually.
  1. It is well written
  2. It takes you on one hell of a ride and keeps you wanting to know what happens next
  3. Because in a way, Larsson wrote about situations that happen all the time that can and have been swept under the rug.  (You'll know what I mean when you read the book.)
Read it and let me know what you think!

Question of the Day

Out of all the conversations that could have stuck with me, it was this:  Can a place really change who you are and where you will end up?

Yesterday, at lunch, Mom and Dad were talking about moving back to Lansing in the next year or two since after Jazmone graduates from high school, there will really be nothing to keep them in Grand Blanc and in a way, they are right.  Dad commented that he kind of hated that they left Lansing in the first place.  Jay and Hillary joined the conversation, saying that it was Grand Blanc that help shape them as people.  Jazmone came later and adapted just as quickly as the other two.  Me, not so much.  Yes, Grand Blanc provided a few more opportunities that Waverly (Lansing) could have and allowed me to meet some interesting people, but to me, home was in Lansing.  (I'm sure my parent's would see this as a whiny post, but I'm okay with that.  This is my blog, so who cares.) 

So, I ask this: Is it possible for something so simple as moving to change how a person turns out even if the original place is still well to do?  If so, could it be that it forces the person to see what they need to work toward to fit in?  If this is this the case, I feel like this would force a person to conform to what society thinks is "right", losing that person that you really are? 

Or are you?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Making a Difference

Today, KT Mac sent me a link to a page that listed 101 situations that made this person stop and think.  Situations that, I’m pretty sure, we have all faced, whether it be a death of a loved one, love, thankfulness for what you have or whatever.  This list had it all.  As I was reading through this and silently cursing her for sending me this list that made me tear up, I couldn’t help but think, “Despite everything, I really should be a lot more thankful for what I have.”  There were a few stories that included children having more faith and seeing the world in a different way than the adults around them.  Or the poor person who was offered part of a sandwich, but told the person offering that they could share.  This was one of my favorites:

Today, after a 72 hour shift at the fire station, a woman ran up to me at the grocery store and gave me a hug. When I tensed up, she realized I didn’t recognize her. She let go with tears of joy in her eyes and the most sincere smile and said, “On 9-11-2001, you carried me out of the World Trade Center.” MMT

I think in our haste to get through the day, we tend to forget that we only have that moment and aren’t promised the next.  Or that there are people worse off when we get upset over little things, such as the eyeglass place not getting my order right the first time and taking forever to ship the correct pair.  I wonder if we have forgotten that no matter what, somethings are out of our control and getting angry about it just isn't worth your time and energy. 
Keep that in mind as you start your weekend!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Let's Start the Week Off Right

Something to think about for the week

Friday, July 8, 2011

Detroit, Detroit

Remember those days when the end of a trip was damn near dreaded?  When did that change?  I find it more than a little amusing considering the fact that just last week, I was counting down the hours until vacation began.  Now, I'm can't wait until I can sleep in my own bed, not worry about how long I take in the shower or worry about whether or not I am going to oversleep this weekend.  Call me crazy, but you and I both know its true.

I will, though, miss some of the Florida sights, like....

The view from my bedroom window

Hard Rock Cafe in Miami

Miami Skyline
And one of my fave's!
It was on the wall in the lobby, rather than the bathroom this time

Time to get back in to the usual routines and back to work on Monday.

Did I have fun?  Sure...just wish it hadn't rained so much.  I do want to go back and spend somemore time in Key West, since it was pretty much amazing.  Somewhere new next year!

Time to get on this plane...See you in Detroit in a few hours!