Motivational Mondays…Sunrises

IMAG4136Every sunrise is a new opportunity to decide your fate and your future.  It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday, learn from it and make the choices today to move in the direction you want your life to go.  Be grateful for the opportunity to try again…and savor the beauty that is in every sunrise and sunset….JR

Another “Shots of Awe” moment…The Power of Sunsets

 You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

See the Iris Apfel movie this weekend!

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I just saw the Iris Apfel movie and I loved it!  She is an eccentric woman who loves fashion and has mostly become famous in her later years for her sense of style and the energy she brings when she walks into a room.  Her trademark large round glasses are such a statement piece and her vintage costume jewelry collection are legendary.  Some of the scenes of her apartment look like an episode of hoarder at first glance, but although it’s crowded she and her husband love every piece and each has a story to go along with it.  I wanna be her when I grow up…what am I saying…I wanna be her now!  I have some round black glasses…I need to go bigger!

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Here are a couple of other movie reviews that I saw this past week….

scientology

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
Wow, is all I can say!  I totally get how people are sometimes looking for meaning in their lives and how believing in something can help steer you in the right direction.  Organized religion does that for many people.  What I don’t get is saluting someone (L. Ron Hubbard, known as LRH) and practically making him a God…which is one of the scenes in this documentary.  That man had quite the ego!! Former members are interviewed and some of the information is quite shocking.  …and coincidentally I’ve scene numerous commercials lately promoting L. Ron Hubbard and his website www.lronhubbard.orgcoincidence?…I don’t think so!  I’d recommend it…you can watch it on HBO GO.  More reviews here…and here

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The Business of Recovery
I went with a friend to see this movie premier at the Newport Beach Film Festival.  The basic gist of the movie is that there is an exorbitant amount of money being made in recovery treatment centers across the nation.  It quotes and interviews many directors of these treatment centers and at the end of the movie gives you their salaries, which are astronomical….most of them over $400,000/yr.  ….and these are non-profits?!  I thought all of this information was very interesting….and sad at the same time.  What I didn’t like was their bashing of the 12 step program… and specifically Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.)  I know many people who have been helped by it…without the high price of these expensive treatment centers.  The producers of this movie didn’t give a salary quote for the head of A.A…because it’s probably not that big.  A.A. makes most of it’s money on donations and sale of their books. They didn’t interview AA members, just those who had been in those expensive treatment centers and didn’t agree with the 12 step program in general….why??…because it’s Alcoholics Anonymous.  A thought on the movie from an AA member I know…”Some strongly object to the AA position that alcoholism is an illness.  This concept, they feel, removes moral responsibility from alcoholics.  As any A.A. knows, this is far from true.  We do not use the concept of sickness to absolve our members from responsibility.  On the contrary, we use the fact of fatal illness to clamp the heaviest kind of moral obligation onto the sufferer, the obligation to use A.A.’s Twelve Steps to get well….Bill W”  So, go ahead and bash those big expensive treatment centers for preying on those in need (…and I’m sure they’ve helped some people too), but don’t drag A.A. and their policies into it, they’re just trying to help people.  Hell, I go to Weight Watchers and pay to lose weight…groups getting together working toward a common goal seems to work.  Hopefully it’s coming to a screen near you…or you can rent it sometime in the future.  Here’s their FB page for more info.

Jeanine Egan Raab

 You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Sear Roasting, Roasted Veggies with Bacon…and anything from Trader Joe’s!

sear roast

Let me start by saying that I completely stole, with permission, the following sear roasting info from my sister JoAnn’s blog DailyCupofJo.com.  She’s an amazing cook!  Have you ever done sear-roasting?  Do you even know what it is?  I didn’t until she posted the following and now it is my fool-proof way to make any meat, chicken or fish dinner (yes, I still cook steak, chicken, fish, Chinese food, roasted veggies, etc…a real dinner, even though I live alone!)  So…without further adieu, here’s Jo’s impeccable instructions….

You know when you order salmon at a restaurant and it has a nice crust?  It’s been sear-roasted.  Once you get the hang of it, you’ll feel like the chef at your favorite eatery.  It’s fast and you can decide on a multitude of sauces whipped up afterward in the pan – or you can use something you find at Trader Joe’s, spooned over the top.

You’ll need a large, heavy, ovenproof skillet for this.  I have Calphalon, non-stick. (my note: I have a large cast-iron pan that’s perfect!)
Also: 4 boneless chicken breasts, or salmon fillets, beef steaks or boneless porkchops
1 T. olive oil
Course salt and fresh ground pepper
Ingredients for sauce (see below)

First, preheat the oven to 425°.  Pat the meat or fish dry with paper towels.  This is essential for browning.  Generously salt and pepper each one.  Heat the skillet over medium-high heat for about a minute.  (If you flick a droplet of water in the pan and it vaporizes in 1 second, you’re good to go.  Getting the pan hot enough, but not too hot, is important.  Again, it takes about a minute or so.)  Pour the olive oil in the pan and swirl it around.  Evenly space the meat or fish in the pan and allow it to cook for two minutes WITHOUT TOUCHING IT.  Lift a corner of the meat or fish to see that it’s both well-browned and easy to lift.  If not, cook for a minute more.  Flip it over and cook for another minute.  Transfer the skillet to the oven.

Chicken and pork should cook for 5-8 minutes, depending on thickness.  Salmon and beef for 4-7 minutes.  I’m pretty good at pressing on the meat to check for doneness, but you can use a quick-read thermometer if necessary.  Chicken, 165°.  Salmon, 135°.  Beef, 130°.  Pork, 145°.  Keep in mind that the meat or fish will continue to cook on the inside for fifteen minutes after you take it out of the oven.  In other words, if you cut your chicken breast open and see it’s just slightly pink, you don’t have to continue cooking.  Remove it from the pan and tent it with foil while you prepare a sauce.  It should be perfect by the time you serve.  Overcooked anything is just a big, fat bummer.

After removing the chicken, I put the skillet back on the burner on high and add about 1/3 cup red wine, scraping the tasty chicken bits that may still be lurking.  After reducing (about three minutes), throw a can of petite diced tomatoes in, along with some oregano and parmesan, cook for another three minutes and spoon it over the top of the chicken.

For salmon, add white wine to the pan after, along with chopped shallots and rosemary.  After reducing, remove from heat and add cubed butter, about half a stick for a tasty beurre blanc.

For beef, add red wine and beef broth to the pan, along with sliced mushrooms (on high) and cook for five minutes.  Add 2 T. heavy cream and some chives.  Yum.

For pork, and I’ve never made this, I’m sending you to a guy named Kevin at Closet Cooking for a balsamic-fig sauce.

Practice this sear-roasting technique and you may never cook another way again. (I’ll vouch for that!!)

So, I used this technique the other night to make steak and really wanted some roasted veggies with it too.  I love bacon…who doesn’t?!  It gets a bit messy to make it on the stove and I’m not very patient with the slow cooking process to make the bacon just right, like my brother-in-law, so I’ve been cooking it in the oven lately (around 350°)  and it comes out perfectly every time.  I thought to myself, what if I put bacon on the bottom of the pan and put the veggies (very lightly coated in olive oil) on top of the bacon and cook them all together (I set the oven to 400° to compromise between my usual bacon temp & the sear roasting temp and it worked out fine.)  Well….AMAZING!!  The bacon cooks, the veggies get a little bacon fat marinade and it’s a win, win!!  …and speaking of bacon, have you had the new bacon jerky with sriracha from Trader Joe’s? (Thank you Amy!)  That store has the best, most interesting, & yummy, new items every month…try the marinated lamb.  I was going to add a few more recommendations but just look at the monthly TJ Fearless Flyer for all of their wonderful offerings (…great inexpensive flowers and greeting cards too!)

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I actually put the bacon underneath the veggies, but you couldn’t see it in my original pic…the aluminum foil makes clean up so easy….have I mentioned I don’t have a dishwasher!

IMAG4127perfectly roasted veggies with bacon..yummy!!

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spinach, mushrooms and bacon jerky with sriracha

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 baked sweet potato with garlic marinated spinach and sriracha bacon jerky

I’m on a bacon kick at the moment…can you tell??!!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Motivational Mondays….Forgive

forgive

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”…from Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience by Steve Maraboli Ph.D

Just re-discovered this guy…Steve Maraboli Ph.D
author of The Power of One, Unapologetically You
and Life, Truth and Being Free….SO MOTIVATIONAL & INSPIRATIONAL!!

  You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

A Couple of Books!….and some notes

old books

I just finished two books and I always find it interesting to go back and see what I’ve highlighted/underlined…and reflect & wonder why I did so.

girl on trainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train is a psychological thriller with depth and twisted love triangles that will keep you voraciously reading until the end.  Rachel is “the girl on the train” with a vivid imagination and a somewhat depressing existence.  I was hooked from the first page and really enjoyed envisioning Rachel’s view from the train as she traveled….I love traveling by train!

The Girl on the Train marries movie noir with novelistic trickery. . . hang on tight. You’ll be surprised by what horrors lurk around the bend.” —USA Today

My highlights….hmmmmm

  • “I have never understood how people can blithely disregard the damage they do by following their hearts.  Who was it said that following your heart is a good thing?  It is pure egotism, a selfishness to conquer all.”
  • “It’s impossible to resist the kindness of strangers.”
  • “Kamal says I have to find a way of making myself happy, I have to stop looking for happiness elsewhere.”

BIG LITTLE LIES jacket.JPG

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies weaves the story of the draaaama that takes place at a preschool in an upwardly mobile Australian suburb…and the cattiness, lies, and not-in-my-backyard mentalities that ensue.  Moriarty explores the lives of the families, their brilliant, perfect worlds, and the struggle to keep up their facades….even as their world is unraveling.  Kept me interested from beginning to end.

“Moriarty demonstrates an excellent talent for exposing the dark, seedy side of the otherwise “perfect” family unit…. Highly recommended.” — Library Journal

My highlight…so true!

  • “You need to be friends with other mothers,” her mother said.  “You support one another! You understand what you’re going through.”

…and lastly, another bit of Jason Silva’s passion. This time on the power of stories…
Shots of Awe…The Power of a Story

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

The Lure of Travel and Wanderlust

 

plane-flying-overhead

It’s 7am and the engine noise starts.  Some here on Balboa Island are making calls to complain about the noise.  Me…I’m wondering where they’re going!  I’m talking about the airplanes from nearby John Wayne Airport that start taking off over my apartment at 7am every morning.   Whether I’m on my morning walk or just getting off the water from rowing practice the noise doesn’t bother me.  Okay, sometimes in the evening, when I’m trying to watch TV and have to pause the show I’m watching because it’s so loud, it bothers me….but when I’m driving on the 73 freeway with the top down on my way to work they literally go right over my head on takeoff…it’s so cool!  As I merge onto the 55 freeway there are planes on their approach to land and I wonder what’s happening with the people in that plane…are they coming home or just starting their adventure in SoCal?

When I was trying to “get a life,” before I started back to work and found rowing, I thought it would be fun to volunteer at the local airport as a greeter, just to help people with their travels and to be part of the excitement that happens at an airport. I had the romantic notion that I would hear about people’s travels, where they were going, where they’ve been.  I’m one of those people who really do like to see all your travel pictures and hear your stories of far off lands and adventures.  I don’t even mind the long lines at customs that much…it’s part of the adventure!  Ultimately being a greeter was kind of depressing because the only time I really helped people was when they missed their flight or their flight was cancelled, at which point I could help them find another airline.  That gig lasted 6 months.

busy airport

This past December, in keeping with holiday season, I watched the movie “Love Actually.” Great movie, but I especially love the opening scene of the arrival gate at Heathrow where everyone is excited, hugging & kissing, and you hear Hugh Grant’s voice say “love actually is all around.”  It’s so sweet and the perfect segue into the movie, but it also makes me want to travel somewhere and feel that excitement!  Why do I have such wanderlust?  Well, it may be genetic!  My parents loved to travel together…and with the five of us…and recently psychologists have identified a wanderlust gene.  Who knew!!  It is known as DRD4-7r (a mutation of the DRD4 gene) and is associated with dopamine levels in the brain.  So, scientifically I’m predisposed to love traveling and discovering new places!  I can’t help it!  Are you a wanderluster?….take this test and find out!  (I answered “yes” to every question…except #4!)

Can’t wait for my next travel adventure, which will be take me to Dewey Beach, DE for my son and future daughter-in-law’s wedding!!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Motivational Mondays…Anxiety & Decisions

decision

I’ve had to remind myself of this lately….

If you obsess over whether you are making the right decision, you are basically assuming that the universe will reward you for one thing and punish you for another. The universe has no fixed agenda. Once you make any decision, it works around that decision. There is no right or wrong, only a series of possibilities that shift with each thought, feeling, and action that you experience….. Deepak Chopra

Smile, breathe, and go slowly….. Thich Nhat Hanh

 You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

An Afternoon of Photography Love in Los Angeles

IMAG4045I was on Spring Break from my job last week and had plans for dinner up in L.A. with both of my sisters & brother-in-law at a friend’s beautiful new home.  If I’m making the hour-and-a- half trek up there by car, and not my usual fun train ride, then I like to take the opportunity to visit some new place instead of just driving through at 70 mph.  I’ve had the Annenberg Space for Photography on my “go to” list for awhile and never seem to have time to stop…but this time I did!

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You should go!  There are two nice venues, The Annenberg Space for Photography and Skylight Studios, both with interesting exhibits through May 3…and both are FREE ($3.50 for 3 hours of parking on weekdays..I think it’s a dollar on weekends.)  The Annenberg was opened in Century City, across from the Century Plaza Hotel on the former site of the Shubert Theatre, in 2013 as a “cultural destination dedicated to exhibiting compelling photography.”  The current exhibit on view is called “Sink or Swim, Designing for a Sea Change” and takes you on a journey to some of the world’s coastal communities to explore how these specific populations are adapting to the rising sea levels through ingenious architectural innovations. There are some interesting stories accompanying the photographs detailing some architectural challenges and their ultimate solutions.  There’s also a short documentary that shows new design concepts that have come to fruition in the rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and more new ideas in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  Lastly, there was a really interesting video in their small lecture room of a TedTalk titled “Ingenious Homes in Unexpected Places” by Iwan Baan (those TedTalks can really suck you in!)

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The 5000 square foot Skylight Studios is located across a park from The Annenberg and is used for viewing short documentaries during it’s daytime hours, but it is primarily for the Iris Nights Lecture Series, showcasing the stories behind some amazing images.  The current documentary on view is titled “Inside Tracks: Behind the Lens on the Assignment of a Lifetime.” It tells the compelling story of Rick Smolan, a National Geographic photographer, and his assignment to document the gripping 9 month, 1700 mile journey of Robyn Davidson across the Australian Outback.  The photography is stunning, but the story is equally captivating.  I’d like to see the movie, based on the book.

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Lounge and relax in the beautiful park between the two spaces

I initially thought I’d just stop in for a quick visit to both of these small exhibition spaces, and be on my way.  Instead, I took advantage of the beautiful park, with it’s built in benches and vignettes of bistro tables and chairs, and had lunch at one of the really yummy adjacent restaurants. There’s the pricier, nicer, Cuvee Restaurant or a few casual restaurants…I went to Sen Asian.  I arrived around 11:30 and didn’t leave until 2.  So much fun!

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Cuvee

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lettuce wraps at Sen Asian..I got three meals out of this $6 appetizer!

Both exhibits close May 3, but I’ll be back when I’m on Summer break to see their next exhibit titled “Emerging” which opens June 6th.  Maybe I’ll even be able to catch one of the Iris Nights Lectures?

I also went to see the interesting movie, Salt of the Earth, about photographer Sebastião Salgado.  It was a photography themed week!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

We’re All In the Dance

ballroom dance

 

I’m a huge Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) fan!  When I was in high school I wanted to be a choreographer, took dance lessons almost every day and was a teacher’s aide in dance.  I also love So You Think You Can Dance, another dance themed show.  Anyway, one of the celebrity dancers this season on DWTS is Michael Sam, the first openly gay football player, who “came out” before the NFL draft last year.  Can I just say that I think it’s sad and weird that he’s somewhat famous for being a gay football player.  I’m sure it took a lot of courage to come out in a highly macho, tough sport, and I hope his “trailblazing” makes it easier for other young gay men and women, but I look forward to the day when someone’s sexual orientation does not dictate whether people judge or label someone.  Can’t he just be a good..or bad…football player?

michael sam

So last week’s theme for DWTS was “my most memorable year.”  All of the stories and dances were moving, some more emotional than others, but the one that Michael Sam did was breathtaking….not because it was technically perfect, but because he told a moving, sad story, through song & dance (skip to 1:38 on the video),  about telling his dad that he was gay.  His dad turned his back on him.  I’m not sure there was a dry eye in the house.  So powerful, I cried (I seem to be doing more of that lately…last week a book, this week Michael Sam dancing!)  I literally cannot comprehend the thinking that being gay makes you un-lovable & that you would turn your back on your own child.  I don’t care what religion you are… a true, loving God accepts every one for who they are….and I don’t have much tolerance for those that think otherwise. (ugh….that’s a whole other post on religious extremism and intolerance)

I could go on about this subject, especially the whole debacle in Indiana, but I won’t.  There are many interpretations of the phrase “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” but I think that it means “people who live in the bubble of perfection and judgement better hope that no-one or no-thing will shatter their perfect world.”  Who can live up to that expectation?  Who would want to?  We are all different, with our own personal challenges along this journey of life….which is what makes the world such an interesting place to be! Everyone has to dance on this earth together, sometimes leading, sometimes following, but hopefully navigating it together with grace, love and decency.  We’re all in the dance…love this song!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!