Friday, May 27, 2011

love love love

This blog post really touched me because it talks about the same reason I love photography- to capture moments and preserve memories.  It may be annoying to have me constantly snapping photographs, but to me it's worth it for that one really great shot of your best friend laughing or a loved one's expression as they gaze at something they love.  Lately I've been dying to get a dslr camera and start taking even better photographs to cherish.  My camera is a great every day camera, but I'm ready to learn how to use a more sophisticated tool for my travels.

On another note, I leave for Europe tomorrow.  I'm way beyond excited so finally see so many historical and cultural sites that I've been dying to see for years.  This is my second trip to Europe but Tim's first.  However, I've only been to the United Kingdom and not throughout the rest of the continent.  It hasn't really hit me yet that in a few days I'll be standing at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower after nine years of dying to go, or that next week I'll be walking along the walls of the Coliseum and imagining how the gladiator fights went down thousands of years ago.  It's an amazing feeling to see a monument you've seen in photographs your whole life finally in person.  I can't wait!  T minus 22 hours until take off!

30 Day Song Challenge- Day Ten

Day 10 - a song that makes you fall asleep

Hmmm well I can only fall asleep if it's pitch black and I have white noise playing...but I guess I'll put up a song that relaxes me?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

National Geographic's World Photography Awards 2011

I don't think it's any secret that I love photography!  This year's National Geographic's Photography Awards has some stunning photographs:

Entralled while watching a traveling cinema movie in India

Floating lanterns in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Ants working for some food!

Lea Love

Most people know how obsessed I am with Lea Michele- it's a little embarrassing, but I can't help it!  We have so many things in common that I just can't help but admire her.  She's got an amazing voice and every song she sings is like heaven, but what I really admire the most is her compassion for animals.  She's a fellow vegan (who happened to choose this lifestyle the same way I did ;)) and just recently sent a letter to the National Institute of Health asking them to reconsider using 14 chimpanzees for research- 14 chimpanzees that we already 'sent to retirement' only to be brought back in for invasive experiments. 

Michele, a PETA supporter (no matter your view on PETA's somewhat crazy methods), she's outspoken against the use of horse carriages in NYC, and is known for rescuing cats and dogs and finding them homes.

Here's one of my favorite Lea songs:  I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables, a duet with Idina Menzel

30 Day Song Challenge- Day Nine

Day 09 - a song that you can dance to

Boom boom boom boom!!  A little call out to junior high but my friends and I still like to break out this song when we hang out ;)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge- Day Eight

Day 08 - a song that you know all the words to- up in here

DMX- Up In Here :)  SO many others, but this is the most fun to sing with all my friends (we're nerds who think we're black!)

Monday, May 23, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge- Day Seven

Day 07 - a song that reminds you of a certain event

Young MC - Bust a Move.  My dad and I danced to this at my wedding (the video of that is in my slideshow, below!)

Improvements to be Made

Our home is an ever changing, ever evolving piece of work.  I'm constantly changing my mind on decor style, colors, accessories, etc., but there are some solid design schemes and house details that always remain constant- my love for molding and crystals for example. 

Tim and I (OK, I) have a to-do list we're constantly updating.  Right now, here's the little projects around the house that we have left to do (for now!).

Install crown molding in the living room and hallway
Install vertical sliding blinds along the living room window
Buy and install a garbage disposal
Update towel rack fixtures in bathroom
Install new laminate tile in the kitchen and bathroom
Buy curtains for the bedroom!!!! (very important to us!  We have an ugly blanket literally thumbtacked to the wall right now and it's ridiculous looking and hard to "open" during the day)
Install crown molding in bedroom
Wallpaper one wall in the bedroom to add a little texture and interest
Make higher quality curtains for the closet
Buy a new lounge chair (or two) for the game room.  This is obviously a long term goal because we need to save up for them (vacations are so much more interesting than chairs!), but we also never use the game room because there's only one chair in there.  The room is gorgeous though, so I'd love to hang out in there more.
Finish up the rest of the framed pictures in the game room
Figure out how I want to paint the entry wall and nook
Living room accesories: new rug for the sitting area, at least one new pillow, figure out what I want to hang next to the TV and in the nook, maybe a new lamp (move around currently lightly)

And last but so not least:
Decorate the deck: lots of plants and flowers, possibly a bench to sit on, two aqua seat cushions, a string of lights, and a cute little lantern for the table.  And obviously I need a watering can. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge- Day Six

Day 06 - a song that reminds you of somewhere

Train- Hey Soul Sister- this was playing constantly while we were in Hawaii last year.  I became obsessed with it!  (The video is ridiculous though)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fake Sugar & Diet Soda

Lately, there's been a health concern that has really bothered me: fake sugar, artificial sweeteners, and diet soda.  Oh, and overweight people who consume them. 

At the end of the day, fake sugar is just a pile of chemicals that is literally poison for your body.  They trick your body into thinking that other food is not as sweet- try eating an apple after a diet coke, and try again after a few days free of chemicals.  You begin to crave ridiculously sweet tastes that only artificial sweeteners can replicate.

I'm not for drinking soda at all, period, but whenever I do, I would never drink diet.  Regular soda is the lesser of two evils.  This startling statistic really made me flinch:  It takes 32 glasses of water to neutralize the acidity in just ONE soda.  32!

In fact, just drinking one regular soda a day increases your chance of becoming obese by 30%, but drinking a diet soda each day brings that number up to 37%.  This may or may not be the actual soda's fault or rather a marker of that kind of person who drinks diet soda- someone who's idea of health are scued.  However, aspartame does cause the body to retain water and gain weight.   Pouring this poison in your body ups your risk of developing metabolic disorder. 

No matter what facts you want to focus on, it all leads down to one truth: Fake Sugar is Bad for You!!!!  It is the worst thing you can put in your body!!!

Among so many other resources, here is some further reading about aspartame and the like:

30 Day Song Challenge- Day Five

Day 05 - a song that reminds you of someone

Jefferson Airplane - White Rabbit.  This song reminds me of my mom, because it's her favorite and we used to sing it together all the time!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge- Day Four

Day 04 - a song that makes you sad

Send in the Clowns - Judy Collins

 I also really love this version:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Forks Over Knives

"Someone needs to stand up and say, 'The answer isn't another pill, the spinach'"

Tim and I went to go see this new documentary called Forks Over Knives this week, and it was amazing!  A large part of the film focused on how eating a plant based diet can not only prevent cancerous cells from forming, but can actual reverse those that have already grown.  That's quite a remarkable feat, if you ask me.  Another big theme in the documentary was talking about how over medicated America is, especially when a simple lifestyle and dietary change could solve their medical issues.  Lastly (but not by any means the least), Forks over Knives talked about how obese America and the shocking  data comparing our country to others in terms of weight, health related concerns and fatalities.  I highly recommend this documentary to everyone!! It's only playing in one theater in Seattle, but it is so worth the drive.  As soon as we walked out of the theater, Tim said that he wanted to continue to try other fake milks in order to curb his milk craving, and then we went and bought a ridiculous amount of healthy, yummy food!

30 Day Song Challenge- Day Three

Day 03 - a song that makes you happy

Cat Stevens- The Wind

Monday, May 16, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge- Day Two

Day 02 - your least favorite song

The Beatles- Yellow Submarine
I'm not going to be choosing The Beatles for every song, am I?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Change Is Gonna Come/Tiger Mountain

Yesterday Tim and I took a nice hike up Tiger Mountain, and now I'm so sore!  I love being sore from working out- the pain is addicting and feels exhilarating.  

Tiger Mountain was a bit of a dissapointment.  The hike itself is a great workout, but the top is void of any breathtaking views.  In fact, there are so many trees up there that it doesn't even feel like you're on top of a mountain!  Climbing summits are my favorite hikes- there's no feeling that comes close to the one when you're standing on top of a mountain.

Right now, I'm enjoying a rare Sunday lazying around at home.  I haven't been home longer then to sleep in almost two weeks, so I am finally cleaning, catching up on Dexter, and relaxing!!

5/15 Playlist
  • George Harrison- I Live For You
  • Cee Lo Green- Fuck You
  • Eric Clapton & Baby Face- If I Could Change the World
  • Bob Dylan- Hurricane
  • Eric Clapton- Beware of Darkess (George Harrison cover)
  • Flaming Lips- Do You Realize
  • Beatles- Happiness Is A Warm Gun
  • Sam Cooke- A Change Is Gonna Come
  • TuPac- Thugz Mansion
  • Neon Trees- Animal
  • Rolling Stones- Sympathy For The Devil
I love Eric Clapton.  In fact, I love him so much that I wrote an editorial for the college newspaper after I saw him in concert the first time in high school.  I bought a concert t-shirt as a memento but actually sewed it down to my size and lived in it for the next two years. 

Side note: I am dying to lay on a beach and listen to the ocean waves and soak in the hot sun.  

30 Day Song Challenge- Day One

Day 01 - your favorite song

Let It Be by The Beatles

Everybody Grab a Book

I just re-found the pile of books I have waiting to be read and I had to go check my list of books I want to read before I die.  I have about 8 different bucket lists for my life, and novels are one of them.  I've always been a passionate reader, doing basically nothing else before somewhere around the age of 12.  My life list is much longer than the one I have here, but this is BBC's list of 100 books that everyone should read.  The average person has only read six, which makes me pretty sad because I know how much joy reading brings me.  I've bolded the ones I've read and italicized the ones I have started and not finished.  

Before that list, however, I wanted to remember my favorite books of all time:

Life of Pi- Absolutely phenomenal book.  A must read, hands down, go read it- now!
Middlesex- Great piece of work from the perspective of a trans-gendered individual.  Thought provoking and addicting.
The Chosen- Brilliant book about the friendship of two boys with religious conflicts.
Atonement- Such a passionate story, the movie adaption is wonderful as well.
Flowers for Algernon- The first book I read after a long hiatus from my youth.  It got me actively reading again.
To Kill a Mockingbird- A classic for a reason.  
The Time Traveler's Wife-  The best books are ones with a good imaginative subplot against a realistic setting
The Kite Runner & A Thousand Splendid Suns- There are no words to describe how amazing these novels are.
Angela's Ashes- Sad, but great.  Frank McCourt is a fantastic writer- he has many more books!
Bridge to Terebithia- My favorite book as a child, I still reread it constantly.
Eat, Pray, Love- It came to me in a time of need, and I'll always cherish this book.
Harry Potter- This series is just addicting and wonderful and just SO GOOD!

BBC List:
1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen 
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien 
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte 
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling 
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee 
6 The Bible 
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte 
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell 
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman 
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens 
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott 
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy 
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare 
15 Rebecca - Daphne de Maurnier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien 
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk 
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger 
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger 
20 Middlemarch - George Eliott 
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell 
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald 
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens 
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy 
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh 
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky 
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck 
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll 
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame 
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy 
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens 
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis 
34 Emma-Jane Austen 
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen 
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis 
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hossein 
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres 
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden 
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne 
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell 
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown 
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez 
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving 
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins 
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery 
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy 
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood 
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding 
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan 
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel 
52 Dune - Frank Herbert 
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons 
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen 
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth 
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon 
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens 
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley 
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night - Mark Haddon 
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez 
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck 
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov 
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt 
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold 
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas 
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac 
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy 
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding 
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie 
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville 
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens 
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker 
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett 
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson 
75 Ulysses - James Joyce 
76 The Inferno – Dante 
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome 
78 Germinal - Emile Zola 
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray 
80 Possession - AS Byatt 
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens 
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell 
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker 
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro 
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert 
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry 
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White 
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom 
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton 
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad 
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery 
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks 
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams 
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole 
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute 
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas 
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare 
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl 
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo 

Total: 28 read, 7 started

The amount I've read still makes me feel a little guilty; It's been so hard to find time to read during the last six years (Why did I major in English Lit?  So I was forced to read novels as my school work :)), but I am making an effort from now on!  Thank goodness for the invention of Nooks and Kindles and portability and instant download!

Vegan Sheperd's Pie

I made this recipe shortly after St Paddy's day when I was craving a shepherds pie like CRAZY!  It's quite the effort to make but it's amaaaaaaaazing.

1 1/2 cups low-sodium mushroom broth1/3 cup dry red wine1 tablespoon tomato paste1 tablespoon all-purpose flour3/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, and cut into large dice5 tablespoons unsalted butter2 pounds cremini mushrooms, stemmed and quarteredSalt and freshly ground black pepper1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped3 medium celery stalks, finely chopped5 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped1 medium celery root, peeled and small dice3 medium carrots, peeled and small dice1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves2/3 cup almond milk

In a medium bowl, whisk together broth, wine, tomato paste, and flour until evenly combined and smooth. Stir in dried mushrooms and set aside to reconstitute, at least 30 minutes. Strain mushrooms before using, reserving liquid.

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with heavily salted water by 2 inches. Bring potatoes to a boil and cook until fork tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Heat the oven on broil and place a rack in the upper third. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a 3 to 4-quart Dutch oven (or oven-ready saucepan) over medium-high heat. When it foams, add half the mushrooms and cook, stirring rarely, until mushrooms are browned, about 5 minutes. Remove mushrooms from pan, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and set aside. Repeat to cook off remaining mushrooms.

Return pan to stove over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the butter, onion, celery, and garlic, and cook until softened and golden, about 2 minutes. Add celery root, carrot, parsnip, andherbs, and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook until browned and softened, about 6 minutes.
Add wine mixture to pan and deglaze by stirring and scraping up any browned bits. Let cook until simmering and slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in reserved mushrooms and any juices that have accumulated and simmer until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve in pan.

When potatoes are ready, drain well. Return to pan and mash until uniformly smooth. Fold in remaining 2 tablespoons butter and milk, and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. If necessary, keep warm over low heat.

Dot potatoes over vegetable mixture and spread to edges of pan to cover completely. Rough up the surface of the potatoes so there are bits that will get browned and crunchy. Bake until top is golden, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Hubba Hubba

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Four Day Weekends Rock!

I wish I had a camera kit for my iPad so I could upload photos straight to here!

Anyway, I'm in LA right now with my mom and grandma watching Brothers and Sisters in our hotel after a long Mothers Day that ended with my mom and I crying on the sidewalk after having to say goodbye to my brother :( As close as we've always been, it's hard having him live in California!

I'll post more about my trip when I get back home, hopefully after having another coconut mocha frappachino and a visit to the local health food store! I hope everyone has had a great weekend! I love long weekends/short vacations, but I really miss Tim!!!! Tomorrow I'll be flying home by myself, my very first solo flight!!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

When I Was Young I Knew Everything

I love the sun!  It doesn't matter if it's cold or hot (OK hot would be preferable), as long as it's sunny!  I'm having a great day work wise today.  Great week filled with busy plans with friends and ending in L.A. to see my brother! 

I finished putting together my living room this weekend.  Painted, started on some fireplace molding- used an electric saw for the very first time (thank you daddy!)  Soon I will post pics! 

On another note, the homeless shelter finally found time for Malena and I to both volunteer!  So tonight we're back again :)  Who wants to pack for me while I do that?

5/4 Playlist
  • Pearl Jam- Just Breathe
  • Allman Brothers- Ain't Wastin Time No More
  • Michael Jackson- Man in the Mirror
  • Savage Garden- I Need You
  • Temple of the Dogs- Hungry
  • Neil Young- My My Hey Hey
  • Owl City- Fireflies
  • Dianna Agron- Papa Don't Preach
  • The Band- The Weight
  • Hanson- In a Little While
  • Nas & Damien Marley- As We Enter
  • Foo Fighters- Live-In Skin
  • Nico- Let Go
  • Lea Michele- I Dreamed a Dream
  • Supertramp- Goodbye Stranger
It's better to burn out than to fade away...