Friday, August 31, 2012

I Ate a Dino Egg!

*****Outside*****                              ***** Inside*****
How many people can say that?!  Well... actually anyone can.  It's a fruit.  But I didn't know that.  Did you?  The Dinosaur Egg is a type of pluot, which is a fruit that is cross-pollinated between a plum and an apricot.  I have NEVER seen these before! I was in Publix grocery shopping this week and saw these interesting things called Dinosaur Eggs (the photo really doesn't do it justice) so I asked the guy working about them.  Apparently they don't carry them very often at my Publix but had just gotten in a shipment. I learned that apparently pluots are good sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. They contain no fat and are sodium free. Pluots also contain naturally occurring phytonutrients and antioxidants that are thought to play a key role in human health.  Well sign me up!  But not knowing if I'd like it.. I only bought one.  Thankfully Publix is literally about five feet from my home because I know I'll be back for more... these babies were TASTY!  As a vegan, I'm always looking for new ways to add flavor to my diet so I don't grow bored.  I'm so excited I tried these.  I know, I know... not really a huge "new" experience but let me ask you... have YOU eaten a dinosaur egg before?!  I didn't think so. :) ~ Christina

Vegan Ravioli = YUM!

I have NEVER made pasta in my life.  That just seems like way too much work to do for a dish that I can easily purchase from the store.  Throw it in a little salted boiling water and tada!  Well... ravioli doesn't work that way for me.  With my dairy allergy, and now being vegan, it's very difficult to find ravioli that is dairy-free/vegan.  And when you do it's three times the cost of the regular stuff.  So since I had some of my vegan quesadilla filling leftover from the recipe I tried earlier in the week, (actually quite a bit) I decided to try making this.  I was a little nervous because it looked pretty difficult to me.  But after some research online, I found a simple vegan recipe to make the pasta (literally flour and water) and all the necessary steps to follow. I opted to bake mine instead of boiling them... it seemed safer.  And can we just say YUM!  OMG this came out so delicious!  As you can see from the far right photo, I topped it with a little marinara sauce and fresh basil with just a smudge of vegan parmesan cheese sprinkled on top for good measure.  It made enough for 3-4 servings so looks like I'm eating ravioli this weekend!  Not that I mind of course... this stuff was super yummy.  Now I think I'm gonna try to come up with different mixtures to put inside the pasta.  This one was the combo of chickpeas, mushrooms, spinach, fresh garlic, spices, chopped tomatoes and vegan cheese.  Hmmm... wonder what I'll try next?  ~ Christina

Pineapple Coconut Smoothie

I've toyed with the idea of a Juice Detox recently and while I'm still not 100% sold on doing it myself, some of the recipes I've found looked delicious and definitely seemed worth trying out.

This week, I tried taking a few recipes and modifying them using ingredients that were already in my kitchen. On the menu- Pineapple Coconut Smoothie!

1 Cup freshly cut pineapple
1 Cup Coconut Gelato
1 1/2 Cups Coconut Milk
1 Strawberry for garnish of course!

Blend it all together and you have lots of tropical deliciousness in your glass! Yum! *Jasmine

Leatherface Potpie

Homemade Chicken Pot Pie is the ultimate comfort food. Recently I found a recipe in the "Ultimate Halloween" edition of Taste of Home magazine. At first it seemed more difficult than I wanted to tackle, but after a quick trip to Stop & Shop and about an hour and a half  of boiling, rolling, and baking- Leatherface was born! And he was Super delicious!

Happy Eaating! *Jasmine

The Paint Bar

I am not the artist in this friendship...that has always been C! But that didn't stop me from trying my hand at breaking out the Acrylic Paints and Canvas at the Paint Bar just outside of Boston. Along with my amazing friends Laura and artist in the making my daughter Isabella, we spent a recent Saturday afternoon making "Midnight Owls."

The Paint Bar is a family owned business that offers multiple classes a day and wine and beer to loosen up those nerves! Our instructor for the day was Mia- daughter of the owner, and she did a fantastic job bringing out the creativity in all of us. 

We will definitely be back! *Jasmine

Baby Blake

I love kids...I should- I have four of my own. But there is seriously nothing better than a neice or nephew of your own.  My nephew Ethan is two now and has been a joy in my life since day one. But my neice Blake, born on my big Brother's birthday was a gift to us all. Another little girl to spoil, a baby cousin for my girls to dress up, and a little sister for my nephew and step neices and nephew to share. While being a "Titi" is not new to me, having Blake in my life is...and that is an amazing thing!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Vegan Quesadillas

I'm no Betty Crocker... so when I cook, I have to have a recipe in front of me to at least provide the guidance.  Sure I'll veer off from time to time, adding a lil of this and a pinch of that... but quite often it's never as good as when I follow that recipe!  Well, I decided to experiment today.  Quesadillas are one of those foods that I had resigned myself to the believe I'd never eat again.  With a dairy allergy, and now being vegan... the likelihood of me coming across something that tasted as good as the original was scarce.  Or so I thought.  Today I got adventurous and decided to create something new.  It's raining outside so what else is there to do besides cleaning anyway?! (Actually there's a long list of things, but we'll ignore that for now)  I repeat.... I got adventurous in the kitchen.  And it paid off!! I made a vegan quesadilla that was out of this world and so unbelievably healthy that I still can't get over how GOOD it tasted!  So... what's in this self-created yummy quesadilla?!  Spinach (10 oz frozen), chickpeas (1 can drained and rinsed, white mushrooms (2 cups), seasonings (cumin, pepper, chili powder, salt to taste), vegetable stock (about 1/4 cup), water (1/2 cup), white onion (1/2 cup), garlic (3 cloves), salsa (1/2 cup) and vegan cheddar shreds (an entire package of Daiya).  Take the first seven ingredients and blend in the blender (add additional liquids as needed) and then transfer to a large mixing bowl and add the salsa and cheese.  Mix!  Next scoop some of the final mixture into half of a tortilla, fold and then place in skillet (that of course has been pre-heated and sprayed).  When ready, flip... until hot and golden brown.  Cut into three triangles and served with a dollop of vegan sour cream.  Spicy vegan goodness that is so delicious!  

I must say... I don't think I've ever had an "invention" of mine come out quite so good in the kitchen.  Of course you can use whatever ingredients you have to sub in... this is just what I had available.  I'm not a huge mushroom fan, but you can't even taste them in the mix... so that's an added bonus!  Eating healthier items I'd normally avoid. :)   ~ Christina

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Web Master

A screen shot of my home page!

Ok... well maybe not a Web MASTER... but I did build my own website! Cue the applause (clap clap clap clap).  Thank you. Thank you very much.  I must say I'm quite proud of the efforts that went into this little project.  I've never built a website before so I really had no idea what I was getting into.  

Over the past few months I've contemplated creating a website for my art company Rhythms of Grace Gallery but I really didn't know where to become.  A couple weeks ago I decided to face fear head-on and forge ahead with this very daunting task.  The hardest lesson I had to learn was to take a deep breath and slow down.  I tend to just in with both feet and figure things out along the way.  That method has served me well in many situations (like jumping out of a plane), but here I had to learn patience.  Reading the directions WAS important.  Asking for help was key to doing things right the FIRST time.  Slowing down feels so unnatural for me that this was an experience in and of itself.  But I did it. After several weeks of being immersed in the techie world of programming, HTML codes, figuring out merchant accounts and just designing web pages... the site is live!  

So I ask you to please be kind... it's my first website so I know I will continue to tweak it and massage the overall look in the coming weeks.  But here you go!  I welcome any feedback, suggestions and ideas that you might have for me.  This has been an interesting "new experience".... I've learned a lot and I have a feeling those lessons will continue as I look into continuously upgrading my site. :) ~ Christina

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Adult-Sized Fireballs

Now that we're almost a month into this challenge, I find myself remaining open to trying new things even when those choices are seemingly small.  But that's how this works isn't it?! Small decisions added up over time make up our daily experiences. And I LOVE that my friends are so supportive and on board to help me.  Last night a good friend and I grabbed dinner downtown and instead of ordering something familiar, we both tried new brews (mine shown above was a new gluten free beer).  Then as the evening moved forward it brought us to a new location with a few additional friends and a new treat.  The adult fireball.  Remember those small jawbreaker-like hot treats from our childhood?  Well, let me just share this discovery of liquid yumminess with you!  Fireball is a cinnamon whiskey that literally tastes like a melted down version of our childhood delicacy. I'm not normally a whiskey girl... actually I can't stand the stuff.  But I've gotta say, this one is different.  I loved it.  Now I'm not a proponent of doing whiskey shots on a Tuesday night, but if done responsibly and in the company of good friends I say go for it!  Especially with Fireball. :) ~ Christina 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Barley Vegetable Stew (Vegan)

Since becoming vegan, I've found it easy to get stuck making the same "go to" recipes that I've learned 1.) taste good and 2.) are easy to make.  With this new challenge, I've tried to identify at least one new recipe each week to make.  This week I decided to peruse one of my new vegan cookbooks Vegan on the Cheap for something inexpensive and easy.  I stumbled upon "Barley Vegetable Stew."  Hmmm... I've never made a stew before.  Or barley.  OK, done.  A new recipe to try this weekend.  And the bonus is this one is made in a crockpot.  Easy enough.  Well... let's just say that I've messed up crockpot meals before (yes - its easier to do than one might think).

Barley is an inexpensive and delicious grain that I keep hearing more and more about so I was excited to make this hearty stew.  Last night I prepped all of the ingredients and started the crockpot, checking sporadically throughout the evening.  This morning I woke to the most amazing smell.... and this week's main meal.  Yum!  Then ironically as I sat down to update this blog, I came across an article that talks about Dr. Fuhrman's GBOMBS. "GBOMBS are the essential foods you should eat for a strong immune system," says Dr. Joel Fuhrman.  "Greens, Berries, Onions Mushrooms, Beans and Seeds.  Those who include these foods in their daily diet will be the ones with a disease fighting constitution."  Well guess what's in this stew?!  GBOMBS!  Well.... as if I didn't already love this dish, I now realize just how good it is for me.  Score!  Plus the dish comes out to <$1.00 per serving.  It just keeps getting better doesn't it!?  ~ Christina

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Breakfast Bars (Vegan)

Eating vegan can be hard at times and definitely requires preparation for those days when I'm on the road and really busy. The prepackaged (vegan) protein and health bars can be great fast go-to solutions but they are often chock full of sugar and EXPENSIVE! So when I came across this recipe to make my own Chocolate Peanut Butter Breakfast Bars (resembling the PROBARS)... how could I pass that up?! So my Sunday project was trying my hand at making these little gems.

These bars are chock full of nutty and seedy goodness plus they're rich in protein, fiber, antioxidants + Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids! If you're watching your calorie intake - I wouldn't eat these in excess, but it's definitely a good idea to add nuts and seeds into your diet and these breakfast bars are a great way to start!  I gotta say... these are DELICIOUS!!! I'll definitely be sharing this recipe.  They are so yummy and can easily be made vegan or non-vegan.  I have a feeling these will be made again for a few upcoming trips on the calendar! ~ Christina

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Greatest 100 Movies of All Time

This one is going to be a little unique... but it will count as "ONE" new experience. I'm posting this now so you can see the list of movies that I'll be going through over the next 300+ days.  The list will be updated as titles are scratched off my list. My goal is to watch the "greatest 100 movies of all time".... and yes I know these classics can be debated from sunup to sundown. But this list seems to be the most comprehensive summary of all of the major lists out there.  If you have any interest in watching any of these with me... let me know!  I'll bring the popcorn! ~ Christina

The Greatest 100 Movies of All Time

  1. The Shawshank Redemption (Done)
  2. The Godfather (Series) (Done)
  3. Star Wars (Series)
  4. Psycho - Possibly the most influential thriller ever made, Alfred Hitchcock’s tale of a psychotic mama's boy (Anthony Perkins) hasn’t dimmed with age.
  5. Casablanca (Done)
  6. It's a Wonderful Life (Done)
  7. Schindler's List (Done)
  8. The Wizard of Oz (Done)
  9. Citizen Kane - Director and star Orson Welles’s masterful fictional biopic about the titular tycoon set a new standard for the movies that followed.
  10. Rear Window - Alfred Hitchcock’s voyeuristic triumph finds James Stewart and Grace Kelly navigating the twists and turns of a nail-biting thriller.
  11. Pulp Fiction (Done)
  12. Gone With the Wind (Done)
  13. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee’s story is poignantly reimagined in this 1962 coming-of-age pic with a career-defining performance by Gregory Peck.
  14. North by Northwest - One of Hitchcock’s finest works of suspense, this mistaken-identity movie boasts crack performances by Cary Grant and James Mason.
  15. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Jack Nicholson as a crazy-sane mental patient is one of many fine performances that anchor Milos Forman’s adaptation.
  16. Vertigo - James Stewart stars as the acrophobic detective at the heart of this 1958 tale of obsession also from the Hitchock canon.
  17. Jaws (Done)
  18. Apocalypse Now - Coppola’s nightmarish Vietnam epic, starring Marlon Brando and Martin Sheen, redefines the war flick and the dangers of the jungle.
  19. Taxi Driver - Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese make movie magic in the tale of a rage-filled New York cabbie bent on correcting the world’s injustices.
  20. Ben-Hur - This 1959 Charlton Heston classic tells the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur on an ambitious scale made evident by its famed chariot race.
  21. The Bridge on the River Kwai - Based on a true event, this 1957 war drama finds Alec Guinness’s British commander leading a perilous effort in the wilds of Burma.
  22. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (Done)
  23. Lawrence of Arabia - Peter O’Toole nabbed the Oscar for his first major role, in David Lean’s breathtakingly gorgeous 1962 biopic.
  24. Singin' in the Rain - The inimitable Gene Kelly directs and stars in one of the most beloved musicals of the fifties, opposite Jean Hagen and Debbie Reynolds.
  25. The Maltese Falcon - John Huston’s influential noir mystery stars Humphrey Bogart as a hard-drinking gumshoe tracking the elusive titular statue.
  26. Raging Bull - A visceral black-and-white drama about an aging boxer (Robert De Niro), Martin Scorsese’s 1980 flick is one of the best of its decade.
  27. The African Queen - Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn’s odd-couple chemistry anchors John Huston’s 1951 romantic adventure.
  28. 2001: A Space Odyssey - Stanley Kubrick’s hypnotic, thought-provoking mind bender was revolutionary in 1968 and has been a sci-fi staple ever since.
  29. The Grapes of Wrath - John Ford’s adaptation of the Steinbeck novel features one of Henry Fonda’s greatest performances ever.
  30. Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb - In Kubrick’s satire, fears come true when a psychotic general starts an all-out nuclear war.
  31. King Kong - The pioneering 1933 horror-fantasy favorite stars Fay Wray as the comely blonde who entices the love-struck giant ape to his doom.
  32. Some Like It Hot - Billy Wilder directs Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon in this wonderfully satirical 1959 work about two jazz musicians on the lam.
  33. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Done)
  34. High Noon - Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly are the married couple who add romance to this terse 1952 Western, a much-lauded classic of the genre.
  35. Blade Runner - Ridley Scott’s moody futuristic thriller boasts stunning effects and unmissable performances by Harrison Ford and Sean Young.
  36. On the Waterfront - Elia Kazan’s gritty, evocative drama has Marlon Brando as the former boxing champ who utters the famous line, “I coulda been a contender.”
  37. The Searchers - This complex Western, John Ford’s 1956 favorite, features the Duke in Indian territory on the hunt for his missing niece (Natalie Wood).
  38. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington - This inspiring Frank Capra parable tells the story of a starry-eyed senator (James Stewart) who takes a stand against the political machine.
  39. Notorious - Alfred Hitchcock’s ninth movie, starring Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant, features many iconic moments, including that famous marathon kiss.
  40. Chinatown (Done - 8/18/12)
  41. The Graduate (Done - 8/16/12)
  42. Bonnie & Clyde (Done - 8/17/12)
  43. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre - John Huston’s 1948 adventure stars Humphrey Bogart as one of three gold prospectors undone by their own good fortune.
  44. West Side Story (Done)
  45. Rebecca - The only Hitchcock movie with a Best Picture Oscar, this gothic mystery stars Laurence Olivier as a moody widower.
  46. Fantasia (Done)
  47. Shane - A great cast (Alan Ladd, Jack Palance) anchors George Stevens’s 1953 Western about a lone gunman defending a pioneer family.
  48. All Quiet on the Western Front - Lewis Milestone’s hugely popular adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's novel is the first great antiwar movie to be made with sound.
  49. A Streetcar Named Desire - Marlon Brando’s portrayal of a brute in Elia Kazan’s intense adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play is the stuff of movie legend.
  50. Sunset Boulevard - Billy Wilder’s dark 1950 comedy features Gloria Swanson as an aging film queen and William Holden as her suitor.
  51. Double Indemnity - One of Billy Wilder’s finest works, this classic noir stars Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck as co-conspirators in marital murder.
  52. It Happened One Night - Frank Capra’s madcap comedy pairs Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert as a reporter and a socialite who fall in love despite the odds.
  53. Stagecoach - Amazing stuntwork and great turns by John Wayne and Thomas Mitchell drive John Ford’s genre-defining high-stakes 1939 Western.
  54. The Third Man - Carol Reed’s haunting 1949 mystery has too many iconic parts to mention plus a sardonic turn by Orson Welles as a man presumed dead.
  55. The Philadelphia Story - George Cukor’s sophisticated romantic farce stars Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart in a battle of societal wits.
  56. The Quiet Man - Lushly filmed on location in Ireland, John Ford’s gorgeous 1952 romance follows John Wayne as he travels to the country and finds a wife.
  57. Rebel Without a Cause - The drama that made James Dean an anti-hero for decades to come is also an unmissable snapshot of the fifties generation gap.
  58. The Adventures of Robin Hood - This 1938 swashbuckling costume epic stars Errol Flynn in arguably his greatest role, as the titular prince of thieves.
  59. All About Eve - This acerbic Oscar-sweeping drama stars Bette Davis as an aging Broadway dame and Anne Baxter as a scheming young social climber.
  60. Red River - For Montgomery Clift’s first-ever role, he stars as the adoptive son of John Wayne’s vicious rancher in this Howard Hawks Western.
  61. Roman Holiday - Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck's chemistry drives this old-fashioned courtship story, which was nominated for ten Oscars in 1953.
  62. The Big Sleep - Howard Hawks’s classic noir sets the standard for private-detective flicks, with star turns by Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
  63. Midnight Cowboy - John Schlesinger’s gritty, provocative portrait of two unlikely friends provided career-defining roles for Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight.
  64. The Wild Bunch - This controversial 1969 Western was one of the most brutal of its day with plenty of stomach-turning violence courtesy of Sam Peckinpah.
  65. The Night of the Hunter - Robert Mitchum’s performance drives this noirish thriller from director Charles Laughton about a psychopath prowling the Ohio River Valley.
  66. The Best Years of Our Lives - William Wyler’s landmark 1946 drama follows three World War II vets, including Oscar winner Harold Russell, as they return home.
  67. Easy Rider - In Dennis Hopper’s generation-defining 1969 classic, he, Jack Nicholson, and Peter Fonda hit the road in search of nirvana.
  68. Bringing Up Baby - Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant shine in the definitive screwball comedy of the thirties, courtesy of ace director Howard Hawks.
  69. Duck Soup (Done - 8/18/12)
  70. Touch of Evil - Orson Welles’s offbeat 1958 thriller follows a narcotics agent (Charlton Heston) out to take down a corrupt old cop (Welles).
  71. My Darling Clementine - One of John Ford’s most riveting Westerns, this semi-historical work stars Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp and Walter Brennan as his foe.
  72. Yankee Doodle Dandy - James Cagney and Walter Huston star in this 1942 flag-waving musical biography of legendary composer George M. Cohan.
  73. Modern Times - Charlie Chaplin bids farewell to silent comedy with this laugh-a-minute 1936 satire in which he plays a victimized factory worker.
  74. Annie Hall - Widely considered Woody Allen’s finest work, this bittersweet New York romance posits Diane Keaton as his flighty, adorable foil.
  75. Paths of Glory - Stanley Kubrick delivers a powerfully bleak, predictably intense antiwar drama, starring Kirk Douglas, about a military incursion gone awry.
  76. The Bride of Frankenstein - Boris Karloff’s iconic lurching monster meets his match in Elsa Lanchester in this darkly witty 1935 sequel to the horror classic.
  77. The General - Buster Keaton directs himself in this visually stunning 1926 silent comedy that many consider to be the amazing talent’s finest work.
  78. His Girl Friday (Done - 8/18/12)
  79. City Lights - Charlie Chaplin’s final and best silent film finds the Little Tramp helping a blind flower seller (Virginia Cherrill) regain her sight.
  80. Wuthering Heights - Laurence Olivier brings Emily Bronte’s Heathcliff to life in this brooding 1939 adaptation of the famous love story set on the moors.
  81. A Night at the Opera - The first big-budget Marx brothers movie, this 1935 gem, about a group of wisecracking stowaways, is widely considered their best.
  82. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - Mike Nichols’s directorial debut stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton as the acerbic love-hate pair who dominate the story.
  83. Meet Me in St. Louis - Some of Judy Garland’s greatest songs are integrated into this upbeat, captivating 1944 musical from director Vincente Minnelli.
  84. The Gold Rush - Charlie Chaplin’s most critically acclaimed movie, this melodramatic silent work reimagines the Little Tramp as a prospector in the 1800s.
  85. An American in Paris - One of the greatest musicals of the fifties, this colorful toe-tapping classic finds the grace and athleticism of Gene Kelly on full display.
  86. Top Hat - Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are in fine form for this gem, mixing romantic comedy, endless dancing, and a superb Irving Berlin score.
  87. A Star Is Born - George Cukor’s classic tearjerker stars Judy Garland as a young singer whose marriage to an alcoholic film star ends in tragedy.
  88. The Birth of a Nation - The first-ever feature-length silent movie, D. W. Griffith’s sweeping Lillian Gish-starring Civil War drama was a massive technological coup.
  89. The Magnificent Ambersons - Orson Welles displays a refined touch in this 1942 costume drama about a nineteenth-century family’s struggles with the changing times.
  90. Out of the Past - Jacques Tourneur’s beguiling 1947 noir stars Robert Mitchum as a laconic private detective who falls under the spell of a femme fatale.
  91. The Lady Eve (Done - 8/18/12)
  92. 42nd Street - This behind-the-scenes musical tells the story of a flailing producer (Warner Baxter) and a chorus girl (Ruby Keeler) who dreams of fame.
  93. Sunrise - In F. W. Murnau’s American debut, this silent movie with roots in German Expressionism, a deadly love triangle is raised to the level of art.
  94. Ninotchka - This sparkling, delightfully witty Ernst Lubitsch romantic comedy was advertised, famously, as the movie in which “Garbo laughs!”
  95. Greed - Erich von Stroheim’s notorious silent-era production charts one man’s descent into insanity owing to his wife’s unending greed.
  96. Trouble in Paradise - An exquisite, bubbly work by Ernst Lubitsch, this good-natured 1932 comedy follows a pair of con artists en route to romance.
  97. Nashville - Robert Altman’s country-music flick finds a colorful cast, including Shelley Duvall and Keith Carradine, converging in the title city.
  98. Letter from an Unknown Woman - Max Ophuls’s 1948 tearjerker tells the story of the unspoken love of a woman (Joan Fontaine) for her neighbor (Louis Jourdan).
  99. The Crowd - King Vidor’s sad silent masterpiece stars James Murray and Eleanor Boardman as a young couple struggling to make ends meet.
  100. Intolerance - D. W. Griffith’s silent epic starring Lillian Gish is a series of vignettes remarkable for their exquisite sets, photography, and editing.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dancing with the Divine

Warrior III pose - yes, that's me :)
As you know, I'm in the final steps of completing my yoga teaching certification and yoga and meditation is a valued part of my daily life.  I typically practice each morning at home, but am always looking for new classes to take, instructors to learn from and styles to try.  "Dancing with the Divine" is a class that explores the rhythm of a unique flow sequence with more advanced poses such as pigeon (eka pada rajakapotasana) and camel (ustrasana).  "Why not?" I thought.  I had visions of students swaying with colorful flowing scarves to kirtan music as the instructor integrated both dance movement and yoga asanas together.

The beginning of class centers you through various chanting and slight swaying as you open your heart and set the day's intention.  I actually really enjoyed this portion (much to my surprise) of the practice. It didn't feel as awkward as I've found some classes to be when chanting is a major focus. The flow of the overall practice was faster than I would have liked and at times I had a little difficulty to keeping up.  But in the spirit of yoga and self acceptance I decided I didn't care and sometimes just did my own thing.  Sadly I doubt this is one class I'd repeat... I just didn't feel connected to the practice like I do others (nor did I feel I was able to really get a great workout in or connect my breath and movement like normal).  But I tried something new and that's what it's all about, right?!  Namaste. ~ Christina

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Vegan Spring Rolls

I'm gonna go ahead and just say it... I need an official "chef" apron.  I'm impressing myself these days with my culinary skills!  Yes I know recipes are easy to follow... but you obviously don't know me well.  I've just never been that much of a domestic diva.  Well, at least I never thought so.  But since becoming vegan last year, I find it so much easier to eat at home and it's easy to grow bored of the basic recipes that I've already mastered.  I recently got a new vegan cookbook "Vegan Cooking for Carnivores" by Roberto Martin... and let's just say SCORE!  This book is full of amazing recipes and I'm excited to try them out.  This is the first I've attempted (so far) and it was amazing!  I've actually never made spring rolls before so the entire process was a new experience.  Who knew spring roll wrappers were rock solid out of the package and you had to soak them in water for 20 seconds to make them pliable?!  And who knew that raw mint leaves, basil, cilantro, peppers, cucumbers, carrots and avocado would taste so yummy in one of these?  Overall this was a successful (albeit slightly messy) experience!  Page is marked... this is one dish I plan to make for my next dinner party! ~ Christina

Yogurt Drops

C (Christina) and I have apparently switched bodies over the last few weeks as her firsts have been more up my alley and vice-versa. She's the sports fanatic and I'm more Betty Crocker meets 20's something. So today- I decided to don my apron again and break out the kitchen utensils.

On the menu- Yogurt Drops! With four kids ages 7 and under, I'm always looking for new and healthy treats. While browsing Pinterest, I found the idea of homemade yogurt drops. Surprisingly easy and quick to make, the kids happily devoured them within minutes. I'll definitely make these again!

Take your favorite yogurt and put into a ziploc baggie (I used a Gogurt and skipped the ziploc step)
Cut a small hole in the corner of baggie.
Squeeze dime size amounts into circles on a baking sheet
(Add sprinkles on top for fun)
Freeze for one hour.

*My variations are in red.

Enjoy! *Jasmine


I've always been fortunate enough to live in places with lots going on. Living five minutes away from the "Most Magical Place on Earth" for 12 years, I could look into the sky at 9:00 pm on any given night and see fireworks. Beautiful, sure, but it gets old. What I've always really wanted, was to look up into the night sky and see the stars. I mean- Really see the stars.

My house in Rhode Island turned out to be the perfect stargazing spot. Our friend Jay came over recently and as we sat in the yard with our citronella candles and Off bug spray at twilight, we discussed how the night before was supposed to be the perfect night to see Meteor Showers according to multiple news sites. As we were chatting, we saw a Satellite moving slowly across the sky and our excitement began. After a few mis-sightings (we do live near an airport so we determined satellites don't flash, as airplanes do), we eventually spotted 9 Satellites and 4 shooting stars!

Such a simple night turned out to be one of the most exciting of my life. I made my four wishes (one for each child) and eventually tore myself away around midnight for bed. I can't wait to do it again. If you have the opportunity to just sit outside, look up. You may just be surprised at how beautiful it might be. *Jasmine

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

American Sign Language: 50 Basic Signs

My intentions of learning American Sign Language (ASL) have been around for the past 20 years and while I’ve learned various signs through the decades, I’ve never committed to really learning the language (or even remembered what I learned months later).  That’s typically the case with many of us isn’t it?  We intend to do something, and might even start, but often times life gets in the way.  Well not any more!  As part of this challenge, I’ve decided to learn at least 50 basic signs in ASL. “Why?” you might ask… well, I guess for several reasons.  First, I think it’s important in my field of Human Resources to be able to communicate with the wide range of individuals I encounter each day.  Here in Central Florida there is an amazingly compassionate and supportive deaf community that I’ve had the absolute honor to work with in various ways.  The one challenge has always been that I need a interpreter to effectively communicate the most basic of messages.  Second, it appears my family is in the midst of a baby boom and I find myself surrounded by small children communicating from an early age by dancing their hands around and signing various messages.  It’s frustrating to always have to guess what my two-year-old niece is trying to say to me with her hands.  Duh! If she knows… why don’t I?  So I set off and challenged myself to learn 50 basic ASL signs as part of this new 365 challenge.  Two weeks later and I have to admit that it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought. ASL really does relate many of the signs to “common sense” gestures.  I kept the learning to simple basic signs like the alphabet, greetings, and basic words like hungry, hello and I’m sorry.  Below is an entire list of the signs I’ve learned so far.  And I’m going to continue to learn more each day. I’d like to be able to really learn the language this year and finally be able to say that I’m “bi-lingual” (at least conversationally).  Plus I really feel this will help me better communicate with others.  :) ~ Christina
  1. Alphabet (24)
  2. Thank You
  3. Bathroom/Toilet
  4. Book
  5. Sleep
  6. Eat
  7. Love
  8. I Love You
  9. Good Bye
  10. Hi
  11. Quiet
  12. Drink
  13. You’re Welcome
  14. Sorry
  15. Television (TV)
  16. Please
  17. You
  18. Me
  19. Hungry
  20. Hug
  21. Hot
  22. Happy
  23. Sad
  24. Dancing
  25. Bath
  26.  Careful
  27. Excuse Me

Monday, August 13, 2012

Frisbee Golf

When I'm blessed to be able to spend an entire day alone with my favorite guy, Jordan, I love finding new and exciting adventures to get into with him.  So today we set out to learn the game of Frisbee Golf (or officially named Disc Golf) at a local course. Frisbee Golf is a flying disc game in which individual players throw a flying disc at a target. According to the Professional Disc Golf Association says "The object of the game is to traverse a course from beginning to end in the fewest number of throws of the disc."  Interested in a little history behind the game?  Me too... here's what I found. In 1965, George Sappenfield, from Fresno California, was a recreation counselor during summer break from college. While playing golf one afternoon he realized that it might be fun for the kids on his playground if they played "golf" with frisbees. He set up an object course for his kids to play on and has continued to take off since then. The sport has grown at a rate of 12-15 percent annually for more than the past decade, with nearly 3000 courses in the US and more than 3000 globally. The game is now played in more than 40 countries worldwide, primarily in North America, Central and Western Europe, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.  

Jordan and I joined the masses who play this sport today with a trip to the Bill Fredrick Turkey Lake Park course.  What a beautiful morning it was.  Here's what we learned: 1.) Earlier is better (Florida heat is excruciating after 10am), 2.) Wear sneakers (flip-flops and wet grass don't make for solid footing), 3.) Invest in decent frisbees (our freebie stand-ins were ok at best) and 4.) Follow the course map (it's easy to get turned around).  Lots of walking... just like in golf.  At one point Jordan commented, "we need a frisbee golf cart!"  Haha - I had to agree.  Well we can cross this sport off our list of "must try" activities... it was definitely a fun morning (especially since it was a little cooler) and we surely got our workout in.  ~ Christina

A beautiful day at the Bill Fredrick Turkey Lake Park disc golf course
My partner in adventure today (and my stepson) Jordan
Decent form... but not so great at the overall game. :)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Frank & Steins Eatery & Pub

OK... this place has been open for a year and I CANNOT believe it's taken that long for me to go.  Y-U-M-M-Y!! This is seriously one of my new favorite places.  Not only does their extensive hot dog menu contain a vegan hot dog (with vegan options)... they also carry three types of gluten-free beers!  But that isn't even the best part... they have TATOR TOTS!  You know me... give me a basket of tator tots and I'm a happy girl.  But it doesn't end there... there are a gazillion TVs so the guys can catch whatever sports game happens to be on (I think my stepson was in HEAVEN), a bookshelf of boardgames (Connect Four anyone?!), shuffleboard, billiards, skeet ball and more.  Ever seen the show My Boys?  This place reminds me a lot of a place that crew would hang out in.  I definitely will be back.  It's just a bonus that it's a couple blocks from my front door. ~ Christina

Caribbean American Heritage Fest at Lake Eola Park

In celebration of the diverse culture and ethnic flavor of Caribbean culture, the Caribbean American Heritage Fest was held this afternoon at Lake Eola Park. Luckily it was rescheduled from June so I was able to attend! The seductive sounds of the steel drums wafted over the lake towards my building and enticed me over... much to my delight!  There was a variety of fun-filled entertainment and festivities for the entire family including arts & crafts, live entertainment, face painting, health screenings, performing arts, delicious Caribbean food and much more!  Jeff and Jordan happened to be over so fortunately we were able to make it an afternoon outdoors immersed in culture and the sounds of the islands.  This is just another example of why I LOVE living downtown... you just never know what fabulous festival will happen down here!  I have to admit that I now really wish I was laying on a beach in the Caribbean with a Pina Colada in hand with a sarong and bikini. ~ Christina

KeKe's Breakfast Cafe

There aren't many restaurants in town that I've "wanted" to go to... but this is one of the few.  For no reason other than the name... my nephews and nieces call me Aunt KeKe.  So of course I was thrilled to find our that brunch this morning was here.  Not only did I get to catch up with some fabulous friends over a delicious brunch, but I also got to cross this place off my "bucket list".  :)  I must say the food is fabulous... everyone loved their choices (and some were just so decadent it made me wish for a moment I wasn't vegan or allergic to dairy).  I got the veggie wrap with all raw veggies and a smudge of basaltic vinaigrette.  Yum!  I definitely recommend checking this place out... especially for a weekend brunch.  Lunch is served after 10:30am so its a win win for both breakfast types and those like me that prefer the lunch menu. ~ Christina

Puppy Playgroup Play Date

Denver plum exhausted after his playgroup play date
Since adopting Denver, I've tried to keep him socialized.  That's what they say to do... keep him around lots of different types of people (kids, seniors, toddlers, teens, etc.), other dogs and cats and even walking around bikes, cars, busy highways, quiet roads, etc.  But he isn't often around the same animals or even all that many smaller dogs (dog parks tend to attract larger dogs as opposed to smaller ones... I'm guessing this is because they need to run around more so than the little ones).  So when I saw a MeetUp group specific for small dogs and puppies I decided to join.  I figured it would be good for me to make friends with other people who share similar experiences with me... plus it will give my sister Laura a break with the constant calls when something weird happens with Denver. :)

This morning was the first meet up since joining.  It was held at Barber Park's Small Dog area.  Barber Park is located just North-West of the Orlando International Airport off Gatlin Avenue between South Conway Road and 436. It has both Small Dog and Large Dog areas, a Water Fountain for Dogs/Humans, Dogipot for cleanup, and a few simple Agility Obstacles in each area.

First of all,  we had a great time and loved the park (it was our first time there). It's smaller so you can keep an eye on your dog better than some of the larger dog parks around town.  

Another thing I like about this park is that you can leave the dog park and take your pet for a walk.  This appears to be heavily used for basketball, soccer games, roller derby and there is an extensive kiddy play area.  All of this is surrounded by sidewalks.  And, there is even a lake at the back of the park.

There was about 15 dog owners and probably 25 doggies there this morning.  Denver seemed to enjoy himself... though it took him a while to get over the expectation that I had brought him a ball.  I purposely didn't so he would be forced to play with the other pups... and that's what he eventually did.  It was nice to not have to worry about him being trampled on by a larger dog.  I think we'll go back for the next one.  Maybe he'll even make a few friends.  Who knows... maybe I will too. :)        ~ Christina

Denver running back towards me
A small piece of beauty I found this morning :)
An impromptu shot of some of the playmates... I'm in the red. :)