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 it...it'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!