The Great Fundraising Act

12 Tue, 2011 § Leave a comment

I don’t know Susan.

Honestly, I am only vaguely familiar with her story.

But have you ever been moved to act simply by the compassionate efforts of others?

Susan (of The Great Balancing Act) was recently diagnosed with Lymphoma.  Despite this, she still carries on with a happy, smiling face & persevering strength while sharing her story.

Because Susan is stuck in the hospital, chemo is expensive & bloggers are powerful, Janetha has rallied the blogging community to come together & raise money for Susan’s medical bills.  Over one hundred bloggers & dozens of companies are donating items to a live auction & bake sale on Monday, July 25th from 8:00 AM (EST) to 11:00 PM (EST).

Items will include delicious baked goods, a professional blog makeover, a lifetime recipe hosting service, autographed books & cookbooks from published bloggers, kitchen gadgets & dishes, clothing, accessories & much more.

I am donating my homemade deodorant,

made with tea tree & lavender oil, vitamin E & cacao butter.

All bids will start at $10.  All proceeds from the auction will go directly to Susan.

You can show support by spreading the word & adding the Great Fundraising Act button to the sidebar of your blog.  I have included the code below.

<a href=”http://mealsandmovesblog.com/the-great-fundraising-act/“><img src=”http://mealsandmovesblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Susan-Button-160×237.jpg“></a>

You do not have to be a blogger to participate.  Contact Janetha if you would like to take part.  You can join in the auction or donate money directly.

For more information about the fundraiser, click on the image below.

Let’s come together & show there is love in the world!

Sublimation

26 Thu, 2011 § 3 Comments

In New Mexico, a Navajo man with a mental disability is kidnapped & branded with swastikas.

People demand “proof” in the form of corpse photos.

A video of a beheading was posted to the web, a horrified public…hit Google.

Last year, the domain name sex.com sold for $10,000,000 $13,000,000.00

Bumper stickers reveal our souls with little true thought for what is actually being said.  ie: “If you don’t stand behind our troops, stand in front of them.”

The desire for mature sex appeal has blazed through teenagers & is targeting an even younger group.  We have dubbed them “Tweeners”, making it even easier for marketers & media to zero in.

This is the pop culture of my era.

When did the body first set out on its own adventures, after having ditched its old traveling companions, the mind & the soul?  It must have got tired of the soul’s constant nagging & whining & the anxiety-driven intellectual web-spinning of the mind, distracting it whenever it was getting its teeth into something juicy or its fingers into something good.  It had dumped the other two back there somewhere, leaving them stranded in some damp sanctuary or stuffy lecture hall while it made a beeline for the topless bars, & it had dumped culture along with them: music & painting & poetry & plays.  Sublimation, all of it; nothing but sublimation, according to the body.  Why not cut to the chase?

But the body had its own cultural forms.  It had its own art.  Executions were its tragedies, pornography was its romance.

~Margaret Atwood, Oryx & Crake

I’m not a prude.  The body is beautiful.  Death is part of life; we don’t need to shield ourselves from it.  But the vulgar?  The disrespect?  The obsession with (& numbing to) violence?  Spectacles for sheer shock?

I know it isn’t all like this.  There is a lot of beauty, intellect, kindness & art in the world, but the shallow filth can be so loud.  Lately, I have felt assaulted by it.  I’m just sad.  How do I dim its noise?

Nature.

She muffles it.

Whether it’s a short hike, an after work bouldering session with friends or a more extended camping trip into the desert, “escaping civilization” through nature reminds me there is beauty & sanity in the world.  Dave & I often transpose “wilderness” & “civilization”, claiming we escape the wilderness when we leave the city & nature is truly civilized.  It makes sense, follows life’s rules & lives in balance & harmony; even when aggressive or hostile, it serves a purpose.  The simplicity it casts reflects back on us, reminding me what matters & what I would like to reflect into the world myself.

If every one spent a little more time connecting with & actually seeing the natural world, a lot of the ugliness would disappear; we would act with love.

Unplug

21 Thu, 2011 § 3 Comments

All of the techy capabilities we have now-a-days are amazing &, of course, I love the blogging community & other social media like Facebook.  When we are here, let’s be here.  Let’s share recipes & ideas about lifestyle, health, fitness & whatever else suits our fancy.  Let’s be engaged in active discussions, make friends & enrich each others life though we may never meet.

When we aren’t here though, let’s be wherever it is we are.  Go for a nice walk & leave your phone behind — & stop texting when you are with your friend at the coffee shop or on a date for goodness sake!  Facebook won’t collapse if you don’t check it every hour.  You don’t have to Tweet every thought.  Conquering Angry Birds won’t make us like you more.  😉

Connect with someone face to face, with nature or simply with yourself.

[photo by David Finch]

Adbuster dares you to unplug & see what happens.  I challenge us all to step back & evaluate our digital “addictions”.  I will be completely unplugged part of this week [though I have a short video & workout scheduled to post tomorrow].  You don’t have to do an extreme digital detox & swear it all off; determine the permanent changes you could make for a happier, healthier, more connected you.

~

Cherish

13 Sun, 2011 § 9 Comments

One of them eats any & all plants I attempt to have — even mizuna left on the counter for mere minutes.

One of them has a tendency to attack my face with “kisses” way too E.A.R.L.Y. on certain mornings…& step on my face.

One of them does not always rinse or soak recently used dishes.

I am not quite sure why my mind has been so focused on those I love most & share my life with — perhaps it is the awful, large-scale tragedies abroad [both natural & human-inflicted], perhaps it is the thoughtful blog posts I have come across as well as the touching & heart-wrenching ones — but I cannot get enough of my family.

While the above behaviors have a tendency to bug me in the moment, I have decided to change this reaction.

If I suddenly were without those I love most, I know I would give anything to see those teeth marks in my leaves, to have my face drenched in slobber & to scrub that last dish.  Maybe this is a depressing mindset, but I have realized to cherish what I have — everything I have & every aspect of it.

I wanted to share this, because we only have this moment to cherish…neglect…smile…scoff…dramatize…laugh…hate…embrace…worry…love.

What will you do in this moment?

Eating To Know

10 Thu, 2011 § 4 Comments

[inspired by A Terroir-ist’s Manifesto for Eating in Place by Gary Paul Nabhan]

Spring is a reminder to connect with my food & know where it comes from.

To know my food.

To know it by its taste —  to allow its freshness to assure me of its short journey.

To know it by by the hands that harvested & processed it & the land & water which nurtured it.  To know if these were left richer or poorer after I ate from them.

To know it through the stories shared at the table.

To know it through the patience & care taken while peeling, chopping, poaching, fermenting…& arranging the plate just so.  To slowly savor each bite, washing my body with the memories when I first knew each flavor.

The simplest foods often stir up the strongest memories.

~

My mom bottles carrots using the pressure cooker.  We would reheat them over the stove & top with pads of butter, salt & pepper.  Maybe they were not our favorite then, but recently I crave to have those tender bits fall apart in my mouth — not in the tasteless, disintegration of overcooking but melting over my tongue as it absorbs the marinated flavors.

While my mom’s carrots are hundreds of miles away, our recent CSA offering included a bunch of petit carrots.  Steaming thin slices along with chickpeas created the same tenderness without any mushiness or loss of flavor.  A little olive oil & sea salt were all that was needed to accentuate the fresh carrots.

I am getting spring fever in every sense — even in my taste buds.

~

How do you know your food?

It’s the Little Things

23 Wed, 2011 § 7 Comments

It is strange sleeping alone – well, I am not exactly alone.

[that’s Eisley’s little white-tipped nose…they are kissing]

I have become an Allie sandwich with Bodh-Eis bread.  These sweeties have sure softened the blow of my loneliness the last couple nights.

To show them how much they mean to me, I biked home yesterday during my lunch break to give them some love.  The act seemed small because my time with them was pretty short.  I would like to think this act is notable though & softened their lonely day.  My commute takes about 30 minutes in the morning, but happy anticipation pushed me home in 20.  This isn’t a leisurely stroll either; I’m cranking & have a decent climb over a hill that had slipped my mind.  They are worth it…their greetings makes it worth it too.

How on earth can I give Bodhi the attention he deserves with a needy pup in my face?  I try though.  After playing fetch with her for awhile, I distracted Eisley by letting her lick the skin off one hand while brushing Bodhi with the other.  😀

The little things have been on my mind.  I am recognizing & appreciating the small acts I do not normally notice on a day-to-day basis, like Dave always setting the alarm clock or turning on the space heater for me.  I mean, I am a big girl & can set my own clock, but honestly, I was a little paranoid it was not going to go off after I messed with it.

There are the big things too of course, like coming home to a clean – I mean immaculate – house.  We are both generally tidy people who prefer cleaning different areas, which makes us a great team.  If things are clean, I am good at keeping them clean…but the floors hadn’t been thoroughly cleaned since we moved in.  Confession: we have not replaced our vacuum yet & I am being picky about the dust mop I want, which is apparently out of stock indefinitely [or so it seems].  Christine was nice enough to drop off her vacuum & Swiffer before we left for Albuquerque, so Dave cleaned while I was gone – he vacuumed, organized, scrubbed & laundered.  Our home feels lighter & fresh.  I am simply happier because of it.

You know what else brings light, fresh & happy to mind now that we are in AZ?

Local oranges.

While I was away over the weekend, one of Dave’s Valentine gifts arrived, but he had no oranges.  He is the oj drinker of the house, & while I usually pass, it seems sad just sitting on the counter, so I will just have to break it in.  Oh what a life.

Nothing quite like fresh.  It just seems happier.

Cheers.

~

Open your eyes & heart today.  What small acts of love do you overlook?  Express your appreciation & make your own love known now!

Agencies & “Bombs”

5 Wed, 2011 § Leave a comment

I feel silly I did not think of this sooner, but a lot of people do not consider going through a staffing agency.  Monday I had an interview & assessment with Performance Staffing in Flagstaff; by 10:00 the next morning, they had placed me!  As of 8am tomorrow, that is where I will be.  It is actually with the same company my husband works for, though mine is a temporary position.

I highly recommend looking into a staffing agency to anyone out there who might be having a difficult time finding a job.

I actually really love that it is temporary work for the time being — who knows what may develop from it — because now I do not feel the stress of accepting the first offer I receive for something permanent.  It is also great while I am determining my schedule for school.

Things are finally seeming to settle & fall into place.  Flagstaff is starting to feel like home & not a transient resting point.  I am excited to embrace this town & offer what I can in return.

Maybe seed bombs?

Ever heard of a seed bomb?  While it is quite revolutionary, they are not necessarily new.  I guess the concept arose in the 70s, but recently Daniel Phillips & Kim Karlsrud completely revitalized the concept in a simple yet radical way.  Old gumball machines!

This is so cool.  You just need to watch the video [which I could not get to embed 😦 so just click on the photo below] & hear about it from them.  I want one here & am definitely looking into how I can make that happen.

[source]

Today I marveled as I was driving along the freeway to reach crosstown.  The fact I was completely surrounded by trees & that it was not obvious I was still “within” the city struck a deep chord.  Ever since my first glimpse Flagstaff has always meant trees.

A bit more greenery while strengthening the sense of community wouldn’t hurt though, right?

~

Ever heard of seed bombs?  Do you have any of the “gumball machines” in your city?

Larry

13 Mon, 2010 § Leave a comment

This is Larry.

You probably don’t know him.  I don’t really know him.

He’s my new friend in Flagstaff.  He is a Vietnam vet just trying to get by, & boy does he have stories!  I am pretty sure he is stretching a couple of them for dramatic effect. 😉  Yes, he is homeless & manages to stay out of trouble for the most part — a local police officer even sort of vouched for him — but he still seems to be a bit of a trouble-maker.  I think he likes it that way.

I couldn’t help but like Larry, & he taught me a couple things that day.

First, even though we did not know each other, it was ok to tell me he loves me. 😀  ha!  Would that weird you out?  He made sure to emphasize while he thought I was attractive,  he didn’t mean that sort of love — he “was obviously old enough to be my grandfather after all”.  I just laughed & thought, why can’t the world be like that? Why can’t we love those we do not know or understand, even with their strange customs or unfamiliar beliefs?  Am I naive?  I would rather live with genuine love in my heart than be skeptical, cold & perpetuate hostility.  We don’t have to skip around throwing flower pedals & giving hugs to strangers; but couldn’t we all act a little more loving toward people?

Some may have avoided Larry or hurried off after a rushed exchange.  I felt he was ok, & we spent a good portion of one afternoon chatting.  My day was brightened as we talked & he complemented passing couples on their “exceptional taste in one another”.  😀

Which brings me to the second lesson I learned from Larry:

When he feels down & depressed, he tries to make people smile.

Larry made a lot of people smile that day.

~

I hope your Monday is full of smiles.

‘Tis the Season to Give

24 Wed, 2010 § 7 Comments

Dave & I had planned a very special day date in Prescott yesterday.  One-third of it was spent away from each other though.

What made it so special then?  It was more of a date with our cameras than with each other.  We parted ways for about an hour, then met back up & shared our favorite shots with the other.

Why don’t I share some of those with you tomorrow? 😉

Dave wanted to explore the emotions of the town along the streets & creek.

I intended to hide from the cold antiquing in local shops.

I have a thing for thrift & secondhand stores; antiques are so fun, unique & “green”.

This got me thinking about PRESENTS — obviously the holidays are just around the corner — & I’m hoping to get some discussions going about gift giving.

This is sort of an area of stress for me right now because Dave & I are not bringing in money just yet; so I am hoping to spark excitement & ideas by talking about a few of my gift giving rules guidelines.

Dave & I have actually celebrated the last couple “Black Fridays” as Buy Nothing Day.  But just because we don’t want to get caught up in all the consumerism, we still enjoy giving & receiving gifts — meaningful gifts.

I read somewhere that many people don’t want it if they can’t eat it, wear it or read it.  This seems like a good place to start.

[Eat It]

You don’t have to consider yourself a foodie to appreciate delicious food or something to enhance your dining [or photo taking ;)] experiences…

like lovely cups & saucers…

aw…every food blogger’s weakness. 😉

or a random air-popper for the popcorn lover [how did I ever live without mine?].

If baking for others seems too overwhelming or stressful, you could simply share a favorite recipe along with a key ingredient or kitchen tool.  One day, I would love to make an entire recipe book.

[Wear It]

For the most part, my concern has transitioned from fashion to function when buying new clothes [usually for climbing, camping, etc].  When I just want something cute to wear though, I feel less guilty buying vintage.  Clothing can be tricky for me to buy for others though; accessories are easier to pick out or make, so I usually stick with those.  My mom has given me a couple beautiful scarves recently, & Dave rocks at dressing me [who knew he’d be one of my best shopping partners?].  Apparently my family is much better at fashion-for-others than I am.

[Read It/Listen to It]

I love passing along cherished books just as much as I love experiencing a friend’s favorite.  Not a book lover?  Most people enjoy flipping through a particular magazine & might consider it a luxury they wouldn’t necessarily treat themselves to.  Ever thought of giving a gift subscription of one of your favorites?  Music is another beautiful element of life that should be shared; I often wish I had someone to exchange piano sheet music with; for now, it’s fun to share what’s on my iPod.

[Make It]

Though it does make me nervous to give something I’ve made 😛 I really enjoy everything that goes into it.  The giftee is in your thoughts during the whole process.  I really love when someone makes something specifically for me,

like these adorable aprons my sister sewed for my birthday.

Though it may not come to you quickly, every one has something to offer in this aspect, & it’s AMAZING to see what people create.

[Experience It]

Rather than giving more “stuff”, offer experiences.  You can give anything from a golfing pass to a massage to an ATV tour to a cooking class to a trip.  Think about what this person loves to do or has always wanted to try.

[Consider It]

If you are going to buy something new, think about how it is made & the trace it leaves.  Supporting local can add just another touch to the meaningfulness of your gift.  There really are compassionate, respectful & honest companies out there, & more & more are springing up.  I suggest watching The Story of Stuff to remind ourselves to be discriminating with our choices as consumers.

I just realized I recently won something fun that could make a great “girlie” gift.  I’ll tell you more about it next week in a proper review of sorts.  For now, here’s a photo hint:

[Any guesses?]

Gift giving should be a balance between

Appreciating who that person is & recognizing his/her passions.

&

Sharing a part of yourself/your passions.

Obviously one passion I love sharing is food — wait, I think we already talked about food…oh well. 🙂

Stuffed Delicata Squash for one

  • Delicata Squash, halved & deseeded

Place one half of squash cut-side down in a baking dish with about an inch of water.

Bake at 400*F for 15 – 20 minutes until flesh is just tender.

Wrap other half of squash in plastic wrap & store in crisper to be used in next couple days — you’ll want to make this again! 😉

  • ½ C bread, torn into pieces
  • 2T orange juice
  • 2T almonds, chopped
  • 2T apricots, chopped
  • ½ Leek, sliced into half moons
  • ¼-inch slice fresh ginger, diced
  • dash of dried sage

While squash cooks, toss the rest of the ingredients together.

Once squash is ready, gently pack the delicata with the stuffing.

Lower oven temperature to 350*F.

Cook 20 – 30 minutes until bread is golden & squash is tender.

One of the beautiful things about tender delicata is how soft & edible the skin becomes…

so you can savor every bit of the squash.

Well…almost every bit of it.

This recipe is extremely versatile, so use whatever you have on hand.  Replace almonds with walnuts; use raisins instead of apricots; choose scallions over leek or rosemary rather than sage.

This makes a perfect, light entree for lunch or dinner.

~

What do you like to give?

What do you like to receive?

We Stole Your Children, Tried to Eradicate Your Culture & Homogenize Your People…We Said “We’re Sorry”, So Let’s Live & Let Live over Dirty Poms

14 Sun, 2010 § 7 Comments

When Rachel talks about coming early, I don’t even raise an eyebrow.  It’s Rachel after all, & we all know where she’s going.

Not this time.

She was talking about premature celebration — of a holiday of our own choosing that is.

What normally comes to mind when you think of holidays?

family. friends. culture. food. community. happiness.

These are beautiful aspects of life worth embracing & celebrating; sometimes though, it’s important to acknowledge the forces that strive to destroy all of these.

Dave [who lived in Australia for a time] shared one such story that really struck me & has stayed with me since.

For over 100 years — even into the late twentieth century — children of Aboriginal decent were removed from their families by the Australian government in an attempt to “breed out the color”.  These children became known as the “Stolen Generation”.

Some were whipped & beaten.  They were “educated” — many were trained as domestic staff — & not allowed to speak in their native tongue or celebrate their indigenous culture.  Children with more white characteristics were “adopted” out to white families [usually as a servant].

A moving & amazing true story about the courage & strong will of one young girl who was taken from her mother during this era is told through the movie Rabbit-Proof Fence.  The film follows three girls as they walk for nine weeks along 1,500 miles of the Australian rabbit-proof fence to return to their families.  It is one of my favorite movies.

National Sorry Day is held on May 26th to express regret over the historical mistreatment of these people.

It is a strange holiday to have come to mind, especially with all the current upcoming festivities lingering in the air.  What’s wrong with me?  Seriously, why couldn’t I talk about something more fun?

As Thanksgiving approaches, I can’t help but think of the atrocities that have occurred in my own nation & throughout the world.  These are mistakes of the past though, right?  People don’t behave this way now.

After listening — & re-listening — to the audio book Blink, I am enthralled by the author’s section on the subconscious biases, associations & prejudices most of us have.  We don’t even realize these effect the way we behave because we don’t realize they even exist.

Some prejudices are more obvious & pretty blatant.  Since moving to Arizona, I have really been taken aback by the obvious anti-immigration tone that exists here.  The irony seems to whisk by unnoticed: didn’t this land once occupy Mexican territory before they handed it over were chased out by the good ole settlers…uh, remember the Alamo?  Oh wait, I think I’m supposed to use that phrase to fire up your patriotism not acknowledge yet another human tragedy.

Yes, yes.  I’m an idealist.  “Imagine” by John Lennon always gets me, & it absolutely embodies my naive hope for the world.  My intention wasn’t to get so serious on you — & I know that’s not the point of Project Tasteless — but…

Sorry I’m not sorry.

My drink creations — that’s right, creation x 2 — are inspired by the simple Aboriginal flag [& one nation’s willingness to “own” & overcome its cruelty].

Black represents the dark-skinned man [or the night sky depending on interpretation] walking on the red earth beneath the yellow sun.

yellow. red. black.

Got it.

Licorice-Laced Pomegranate Cider

I just had to use pomegranate juice for my drink, but I wondered if I could make it warm like apple cider.  It had to be a little special too.

I hope you like black licorice.  Panda is my favorite brand.

  • 8 oz 100% pure Pomegranate juice
  • 1-inch piece of Panda black licorice, optional [but not really optional ;)]

Combine in a small pot & slowly bring to a simmer — don’t let it boil.

Carefully pour into a cup [or other drinking vessel — like my mason jar?], slide in a slice of lemon, add the rest of your licorice stick & sip this steaming cup of happiness.

The anise-flavor is only subtle but really does make it extra special.  The citrus adds a refreshing splash to your breakfast accompaniment.

I enjoyed mine with Baked Pumpkin French [Cranberry-Walnut]Toast.

[I still haven’t been able to talk Daving into make damper — traditional Australian fry bread for me. :(]

But this breakfast really hit it.

AND

This drink owns a pair of black stilettos & knows how to kick it up a notch.

I had big plans of layering inky black Luxardo Passione Nera Sambuca over Pomegranate juice — or over pomegranate Sambuca depending on the mood — & lighting it up [you know, the flame would represent the sun]…but Passione Nera was no where to be found. 😦

I decided to get dirty & turned to a more natural, earthy source for that black licorice punch.

Apparently adding intriguing texture by making dishes “dirty”  is all the rage among top chefs in the cooking world.  They are abandoning sauces & instead using fine powders, crumbles, dusts & dirts crafted from cookie crumbs, dried mushroom powder, dehydrated beets & anything else that can be dried, ground or crumbled.  Why couldn’t my drink be dirty?

  • ¼ tsp Anise seeds, ground
  • ~4 oz [½C] Pomegranate juice
  • vanilla Vodka
  • Panda licorice stick
  • 1 slice of Lemon

In an 8oz glass, pour pomegranate juice over your ground anise seeds.

Top the glass off with Vodka [to your liking].

When lighting it up doesn’t quite work

just “dress it” & get your drink sip on!

Quite tasty…that is of course supposing you are a fan of black licorice [which I’m discovering is rare — I don’t get it!].  However, even Dave who hates black licorice said it was “sweet enough I could forgive the licorice flavor.”

~

What holidays or “national days” really speak to you?

What are your favorite drink mixes?  Ever invent your own?

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