Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday Motivation: It’s A New Day

I believe in the infinite power and wisdom of the shuffle option on my iPod to reveal truths to me.  Kind of like a musical horoscope and daily devotion all built into one.

Today while on the elliptical, my iPod decided to offer up this for us to ponder: It's A New Day .

The video has a decided political edge, but if that distracts you, close your eyes or just scroll down and read the lyrics as the song plays.

I like having to lyrics to read along with the song, it’s the control freak in me. It's A New Day

I went to sleep last night
Tired from the fight
I've been fighting for tomorrow
All my life
Yea I woke up this morning
Feeling brand new
'Cause the dreams that I've been dreaming
Has finally came true
It's a new day
It's a new day
It's a new day
It's a new day
It's a new day
It's been a long time coming
Up the mountain kept runnin'
Songs of freedom kept hummin'
Channeling Harriet Tubman
Kennedy, Lincoln, and King
We gotta manifest that dream
It feels like I'm swimming upstream
It feels like I'm stuck in between
A rock and a hard place
We've been through the heartaches
And lived through the darkest days
If you and I made it this far
Well then hey, we can make it all the way
And they said no we can't
And we said yes we can
Remember it's you and me together
I woke up this morning
Feeling alright
I've been fightin' for tomorrow
All my life
Yea, I woke up this morning
Feeling brand new
Cause the dreams that I've been dreaming
Has finally came true
It's a new day
(it's a new day)
It's a new day
(it's a new day)
It's a new day
It's a new day
It's been a long time waitin'
Waiting for this moment
Been a long time praying
Praying for this moment
We hope for this moment
And now that we own it
For life I'ma hold it
And I won't let it go
It's for fathers, our brothers
Our friends who fought for freedom
Our sisters, our mothers
Who died for us to be in this moment
Stop and cherish this moment
Stop and cherish this time
It's time for unity
For us and we
That's you and me together
I woke up this morning
Feeling brand new
Cause the dreams that I've been dreaming
Have finally came true
Yea, I woke up this morning
Feeling alright
'Cause we weren't fighting for nothing
And the soldiers weren't fighting for nothing
No, Martin was dreaming for nothing
And Lincoln didn't change it for nothing
And children weren't crying for nothing
It's a new day
It's a new day
It's a new day
A new day
It's a new day
It's a new day
It's a new day

What has inspired you today?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

One Simple Thing: Earth Hour 28 MAR 8:30 pm EST

It’s as easy as turning off the lights for an hour.  Vote Earth tonight and join a worldwide movement to focus awareness on global warming.

Information from



This year, Earth Hour has been transformed into the world’s first global election, between Earth and global warming.

For the first time in history, people of all ages, nationalities, race and background have the opportunity to use their light switch as their vote – Switching off your lights is a vote for Earth, or leaving them on is a vote for global warming. WWF are urging the world to VOTE EARTH and reach the target of 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009.

This meeting will determine official government policies to take action against global warming, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol. It is the chance for the people of the world to make their voice heard.
Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square all stood in darkness.
In 2009, Earth Hour is being taken to the next level, with the goal of 1 billion people switching off their lights as part of a global vote. Unlike any election in history, it is not about what country you’re from, but instead, what planet you’re from. VOTE EARTH is a global call to action for every individual, every business, and every community. A call to stand up and take control over the future of our planet. Over 74 countries and territories have pledged their support to VOTE EARTH during Earth Hour 2009, and this number is growing everyday.
We all have a vote, and every single vote counts. Together we can take control of the future of our planet, for future generations.
VOTE EARTH by simply switching off your lights for one hour, and join the world for Earth Hour.
Saturday, March 28, 8:30-9:30pm.

* Turn out the lights and Vote Earth today, then login and let me know how your Earth hour went.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Red Beans and Rice, Ya’ll


I have recently started to attempt to cook more simply.  By that I mean, fewer processed things and more natural ingredients.

I figure I have a Kitchen Aid mixer, a food processor, and a boyfriend who loves to eat, so what’s the worse that could happen? 

One of the recipes I think I have mastered is Red Beans and Rice.  With most new dishes, I search around for recipes and test them out then modify them until I am happy with the result.  Red Beans and Rice is in the perfected category; I am still on version 2.1 of some other meals.

I will warn you in advance that this is not the meal to attempt when you are starving right this second.  This one will take you at least 2 hours but it is so worth the wait.

Red Beans and Rice (modified from a recipe by Alton Brown)

This recipe will feed four easily with leftovers.  I usually cut everything in half for 2 of us, which leaves enough leftover for lunch the next day.  This stuff gets better if it sits in the fridge overnight.  Viva leftovers!


For red beans:

IMG00019 (1)

  • 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (all organic veggies, if you have that option)
  • 2 medium green bell peppers, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (I use sea salt)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 links/ 1 package /12 oz andoullie sausage, sliced (mine is organic, skinless, and made from chicken and turkey.  I heart Trader Joes).
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (I use Mrs. Dash Table blend)
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 pound red kidney beans, rinsed and picked of debris (I use dark red organic kidney beans)

Directions (with narrative)


Place the  oil in a 7-quart Dutch oven and set over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, salt and pepper to the pot.

*I cry like crazy when I chop onions, to the point that I can barely see.  Wearing sunglasses helps.  Using a food processer is even better.  I chop all the above veggies up very roughly then toss them all into the food processor for a nice dice without tears.

* I will also add that I am really not a fan of raw green peppers and onion.  If you are also not a fan, give this recipe a try.  It cooks so long that you really only get the flavors and not any crunchy vegetables.   Stop rolling your eyes, there’s no way you are a more picky eater than I am, just try time.

IMG00020 (1)

Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and celery are semi-translucent and the bell peppers are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

*You really do need to stir constantly to avoid having the veggies burn.  For this reason, I assemble all the other ingredients before I drop anything into the pot.  Times like this I wish I had a sous chef.

Add the sausage, bay leaves, thyme, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, water and beans to the pot and increase the heat to high. Cook, stirring frequently until the mixture comes to a boil, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.

* Mine usually takes a little more time to come to a boil, closer to 12-15 min, so have patience.  Don’t fret over how green the mixture looks at this point.  The red beans and sausage will do their thing, trust me.


Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.

* This is the hard part because your whole house is going to smell like yummy, delicious red beans while they cook.  In a word, mouth-watering.

Uncover, increase the heat slightly to maintain a steady simmer and continue to cook for another 30 to 40 minutes or until the beans are tender and the sauce is thickened to your liking. If you prefer an even creamier texture, mash some of the beans with a potato masher.

* I use the potato masher trick to thicken up the sauce.  I would estimate that I mash up about 1/3 of the beans in the process.


For the rice, I use Trader Joe’s Organic brown rice, which comes frozen and is ready in 3 minutes.  If you are not so fortunate to have this miracle of science, old fashioned brown rice works just fine too.  You should start it when you uncover the beans assuming your rice will take about 30-40 min to cook completely.

Scoop up the yummy red beans over the rice and if you feel like it, add in a spoonful of sour cream to pretty it up a bit.


My favorite memory so far of eating red beans and rice is sharing a big pot of them with my parents and boyfriend the day of the presidential inauguration in 2009.  We were beyond frozen and tired from standing outside from 4am to 2pm, so when we finally made it back to the house around 5pm, the red beans and rice I made the day before was more than perfect.  It was our own version of the Inaugural balls- red beans and rice and pajamas.

Give this recipe a go and let me know what you think.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

MAR 26: Moment of Zen


Today’s moment of zen :

Begrudgingly sliding feet into workout shoes to go spend an hour with the elliptical.  Feeling something amiss and hoping it doesn’t mean new shoes since I really love these.  Shoes back off again and looking at socks for the offending lump then at the shoes only to find a small bundle of fuzzy felt and strings- also known as the youngest kitty’s very favorite toy in the world.  Actually, the remains of his very favorite toy which I have replaced with an exact replica but he still loves the sad little bits from the original toy more.  Happiness replacing begrudging because a little boy kitten in this house loves me so much he left me his treasures.

Obligatory photo of thoughtful kitten, Sixer, because I know you want to see him:


Friday, March 20, 2009

One Simple Thing: World Water Day- March 22

One Simple Thing is my Friday contribution to provide you with an easy thing you can do to “be the change” you want to see in the world.  Fairly ambitious, no?  Think of it as part Martha Stewart (“It’s a Good Thing”) and part social activist.

Here’s our first opportunity: World Water Day on March 22, 2009.  Water conservation is one of the areas I am focusing on this year, so there will be lots more info in the blog about my journey into the ways of water.

Sobering facts:

  • more than 1 billion: the amount people around the world that lack access to clean, safe drinking water.
  • 2.5 gallons: The amount of water per person much of the world is allocated.
  • 400 gallons: The amount of water per person used by the average American citizen; 30 percent of this is used for outdoor purposes, such as watering the lawn.
  • 88 percent: Of deaths from diarrhea are caused from unsafe drinking water, inadequate availability of water for hygiene, and lack of access to sanitation; this translates to more than 1.5 million of the 1.9 million children under five who perish from diarrhea each year. This amounts to 18% of all under-five deaths and means that more than 4,000 children are dying every day as a result of diarrhoeal diseases.

Overwhelming.  But knowing the facts should empower us, not make us feel powerless.  One of my favorite quotes is to work towards progress, not perfection.  In that spirit, let’s consider what we can do, simple things, to change our water habits:

Take action:

  • Attend one of UNICEF’s sponsored Tap Project restaurants in your city and pay $1 for tap water that you would normally get for free. Every dollar raised through the Tap Project supports UNICEF water, sanitation and hygiene programs.
  • Install a low-flow showerhead to reduce your shower water use by 20 to 60 percent.
  • Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth. Fill the basin for washing or shaving.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables in a bowl, and fill you sink to wash and rinse dishes, instead of running the water.
  • Use a rain barrel to collect water from your roof's downspout to irrigate your garden.
  • Give up the plastic water bottles once and for all.  This is a big one for me.  I swore off bottled water 2 yrs ago and have not looked back and encourage you to do the same.  More on this topic later, but in case you are wondering why this action is relevant here, estimates are that it takes up to 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water.

Or, if you are overambitious, combine a few of the items above.  I am going to renew my water conservation commitment with something simple I am sure you all have at home: a Rubbermaid pitcher.  Take said pitcher with you into the shower and place it on the shower/tub floor and use it to catch the water while you wait for it to heat up.  If you have a fancy tankless water heater and have hot water on demand, I am jealous of you.  And you should pick another simple thing from the list.  Maybe two, just because you make me jealous.

Back to the pitcher of water, I usually end up with at least a 2 gallon pitcher of water from the exercise above.  I then use the water for a variety of tasks; brushing my teeth, rinsing fruits and veggies, running the disposal, and my personal favorite, rinsing out my recyclable.  I was having a moral conflict with wasting clean water on rinsing out cans, so this little water gathering plan has made me much happier.  Rain barrels are on my list too for spring.  I will keep you posted on how that adventure turns out.

What action will you commit to for World Water Day this year?

Learn more: Treehugger’s Guide to Water Conservation

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Moments of Zen

Why “Moments of Zen” you ask?  I stole it.  Complete and utter thievery from Jon Stewart and the Daily Show, although I have heard it was around before he signed on at the host.  Click on the Daily Show link below if you are interested in the origin.

More amusing definitions of “Moment of Zen”:

  • “I always took it as a snarky way of saying - "You having a bad day? Things get a little weird for you? You got nothing on these guys."
    A real moment of zen would, in theory, be a moment of clarity in which you became aware of the nothing/everything that makes the world go 'round and were somehow better for it.”
  • “I've always taken The Daily Show's "moment of Zen" a kind of simplified, shorthand, somewhat distorted version of same; i.e. here, in this weird or lame or otherwise remarkable video clip (or whatever) is an actual moment that transpired somewhere in the world today, and so forget the rest of the day's events and just imagine what it was like to be in that spot at that time.”
  • “Odds are, anytime you read the word “zen,” it has no relation to actual Mahayana Zen Buddhism. In this context, it could mean “insight” or “enlightenment.” Currently, the highest rated definition in the Urban Dictionary is “Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.”

So, for those of you who were afraid I was going to go all deep Buddhist mysticism on you, you are safe. 

I am a news junkie of sorts, but some days all I can take is the Daily Show version, which although it is played on Comedy Central is shockingly well done.  Just a warning, some may say it leans to the left, a lot.  If you are a Fox News fan, you may not want to check it out.  Of course, if you are a Fox News fan, you may not want to check out some or all of what’s going to be coming up in my blog.  But, if you are like me, sometimes reading or watching something from an opposite viewpoint helps you to question your own views, or in this case, laugh at them.

Are you fascinated by the Daily Show’s Moment of Zen?  If so, you can watch over a thousand of them from the link above- complete with descriptions in case you are picky about your zen.

This blog will be a glimpse into my own favorite Moments of Zen, from cooking red beans and rice to worm composting to causes that resonate with me.

Where do you find your “zen”?

First post..Pandora's box Flung Wide Open

"2 AM and I'm still awake, writing a song post
If I get it all down on paper, it's no longer inside of me,
Threatening the life it belongs to
And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you'll use them, however you want to.."

Words courtesy of Anna Nalick's Breathe, but they seem to fit how I feel as I get ready to put it all out here for you all to read.  Not really sure who "you all" or "ya'll" are just yet, so please make yourselves known.  As much as I like screaming into the void, it will be nice if you chime in to agree with me, point out a new perspective, or just admit that reading other people's blogs is your guilty pleasure, just like it is mine.

So, here we go..

p.s.: Don't worry Mom, that's totally not my neck or tattoo. 

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