Monday, November 30, 2009

What happened to Christmas?

I am so sick and tired of the buy, buy, buy mentality that so many people have.
George Carlin does this great bit on people and their stuff.



Honestly, is that what Christmas is all about? Our church did a sermon series on
Unwrapping Christmas. Before the service started they played this video:




It's from the Advent Conspiracy web site where they pose the question,
What happened to Christmas? I encourage you to check it out.

Our minister spoke on Beyond the Feast. He brought up that fact that we all get caught up in buying products and services because of the promises that are made, but when the gadget, food, movie or other object doesn't live up to the promise we are back out there looking for more.
Those promises are never truly going to fulfill us; we gorge ourselves asking the question: is there something more? The answer is yes! There is something more, but we can't find it at Target or the grocery store. We need to use our sight, not our eyes, to guide us, to change our hearts so that we can move into action and make lasting changes in our lives. So that we can
find that lasting hope.
I call you into action, make a difference this holiday season and stop
buying all that stuff.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

more green ideas

Just a quick review, for the sake of, I don't know, saving the planet. Beth Aldrich and Airwear are teaming up to make sure everyone knows that there are greener choices out there.
Some of the choices we have made are to buy locally when ever possible. If you have a fresh market in your area, you should find out what local farmers are growing. I promise that you will find a lot of healthy choices and you will also be supporting your local growers.
Another greener choice is to use cloth grocery bags when you go shopping I wrote about it here. If you will just buy one bag every time you go to the store, before you know it you won't have to use any plastic bags and you will be saving money. Yes, that right! Many local stores will reimburse you whenever you use your cloth bags.
Most recently, I wrote about using filtered water instead of bottled water here. Plastic bottles aren't not only bad for mother earth, the chemical are dangerous to our bodies too!
Another "environmentally friendly thing we do around here is to recycle.
Any and all of these choices are great. And don't forget that Airwear is using environmentally conscious practices. For example they use 100 percent recycled water and 100 percent recyclable packaging.
Oh, and for those who are plagued with noxious paint fumes, the University of Southern Miss's
polymer science department had developed an environmentally friendly paint. You can read more about it here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Young Adult Books for Not so Young Adults

When I discovered I was pregnant with my first child I put down the books I read (mainly Anne Rice's vampire chronicles) in favor of those on pregnancy, child development and later, children's books. Several years passed, when quite by accident I happened across a blog that opened the door for me to start reading a genre of books I never would have thought I'd read, much less enjoy. I'm sure you've heard about Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series. Since reading her books, I have found myself reading a number of young adult books including The Mortal Instrument series, by Cassandra Clare.

My sweet daughter decided to dress as the one of the main characters, Clary Fray, for Halloween.




Well, as you might of guessed, I didn't stop there. I have read more than a couple of young adult books that would be considered to be urban fantasy/paranormal romance in nature.



Apparently there's quite a debate over what to call this new genre of book. Urban fantasy books are supposedly set in a modern day time period and contain supernatural elements where as, paranormal romance books have to do with mythical, supernatural or what-have-you love stories. Personally, I don't care what the books are labeled as as long as they are well written and entertaining.


I have provided a list of authors and book with links so that you might find a book or two that you would enjoy reading. I would also appreciate any suggestion of books you've enjoyed.



I recently read Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater. Shiver is a wonderful book about a girl saved from a wolf attack by one of her attackers. As she grows, she becomes more and more interested in the wolf who saved her. She has an opportunity to return the favor by saving his life. That leads to having to take a second look at her own reality. Maggie has also written several books about fairies, a topic I never really found interesting until I read her first book, Lament. It has a basis in Celtic folk lore that I found interesting. You can purchase it here. I am currently reading the second in that series called Ballad.



Another book that I fell in love with was Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick. Hush Hush was just released last month. It is a truly a phenomenal story! I promise that Patch will make you question anything you've ever read about fallen angels. She will soon publish the second book in that series; it will be named Crescendo .

Note: There is a wonderful give-a-way going on over at Books Gardens and Dogs where you can win an ARC of Hush Hush so go forth and tell everyone you know to sign up to win!



Sarah Rees Brennan, an Irish author, wrote a wonderful book called The Demon's Lexicon that is a must read in this genre. It's about two brothers whose father was murdered and their mother was driven mad by magicians. While they are running from the demons and their magic, Alan finds himself marked by a demon. As Nick began to question his brother's honesty his world unravels. You really don't want to pass this book over. The second book in this series will be The Demon's Covenant.



Another good author to read is Holly Black. She is best known for her collaboration with Tony DiTerlizzi on the best-selling Spiderwick Chronicles. You can access her web site here. She has also written Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside, a faerie series.



Lisa McMann has a paranormal series which I found very intriguing. The first in her series is Wake, followed by Fade and soon to be released Gone. Janie has the ability to enter into the dreams of others. It's not until she starts working at a local nursing home and befriends an elderly women with similar skills, that she learns to how she can use her unusual talent. Lisa has a contest going on here where she is giving away copies of Gone. You really don't want to miss out!



Candor by Pam Bachirz provided an interesting look into what I already suspected about all these ideal neighborhoods popping up in Florida. Oscar appears to be the perfect teen, but he knows how to fight "The Message." Now he must save Nia or lose himself trying.



Other authors/books that I have on my 'to read' list include Carrie Jones' Need, Immortal by Gillian Shields, Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games, Melissa Marr's Fragile Eternity, and Evermore by Alyson Noel.



But most importantly Beautiful Creatures by Kami Farcia and Margaret Stohl is to be released December 1, 2009. Now, if you want to win a signed ARC and a plethora of other goodies you can go here and enter the contest!



Saturday, October 24, 2009

Irish Beef Stew



When the weather starts to cool off I get a hankering for stew. My favorite is Irish beef stew. I have the ingredients listed below with a rough estimate of how much to use since I'm not really one to measure.
















Ingredients


1/8 cup olive oil
1 - 1 1/2 pounds stew beef, cut into 1-inch pieces coated in seasoned flour
6 large garlic cloves, minced
3 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
3 pounds potatoes, peeled, cut (about 7 cups)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons flour

water
Optional:
1 cup of Guinness beer
1 cup of red wine







I like to season my my beef with salt and pepper before I dust with a little flour. Next, I heat my oil in the skillet and brown my meat adding the garlic right at the end. Then, I add the beef stock simmering the meat for an hour before I add the potatoes, onion, carrots, and additional seasonings. I add several cups of water bring to a boil before I turn the heat down, cover, and simmer all afternoon.










Serve with sour cream and crusty bread.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bottled Water Versus Tap Water; What's Your Choice?

Many times what is right for me and my family isn’t what is right for you and your family. And yes, it is difficult to make the right choice, but I am going to try and forgo convince for the sake of the environment. I drink a lot of water, all bottled. There are so many different thoughts on bottled water. Many people talk about the cost of buying water verses just simply drinking tap water. According to this article here “Commercially-bottled water costs $.25 to $2/bottle…[while] Municipal tap water costs less than a penny to fill a gallon jug! This article here talks about the rise in tooth decay due to the lack of fluoride in bottled water. But, I am only going to focus on two issues; one the chemicals in the bottle that may or may not harm you and two the concern for the environment.










I’m sure you’ve heard the discussions about the chemical bisphenol A (or BPA) but, if you haven’t you need to know that BPA’s a chemical found in soft/flexible plastics that has been found to leach into the food or liquids you drink when heated. Environmental Health News has an article here that explains the side effects of BPA including heart disease and diabetes. The main concern is said to be when the plastic is heated in the microwave or left in the car, but now there is a Harvard study that says BPA is also leached into cold liquids. If BPA is as dangerous whether the food/liquid is cold or heated makes me just a little nervous. If you are concerned about the BPA's in other products, the Green Guide has a great article here about what to look for when purchasing plastic containers.









Being concerned for the environmental is another reason to stop purchasing plastic drinking water.I didn’t feel so bad about my use of plastic bottles while we were collecting them to recycle, but as we found out while living in central Arkansas, no one would take our plastic for the purpose of recycling and we were forced to throw away several large garbage bags of plastic bottles. Now I don’t know what your local recycling center accepts, but you may want to find out before you dismiss the issue. Just click here and enter you zip code to find a recycling center near you.

According to this article only 12% of plastic bottles were recycled in 2003. In fact, I dare you to keep up with ALL the plastic your family uses in a week, including what you use outside the home. Put it all in a garbage bag then at the end of a week look at how much plastic your family has throw away. Now I want you to multiply that by the 112 million families that live in the United States. That’s a lot of plastic; what do you think happens to all of that plastic?


I'm a realistic individual; I know our family won’t be able to give up plastic all together. I'm just talking about taking a small step toward reducing our carbon footprint. So, we decided to buy a PuR water system.








We picked this one up at Sam's Club. It was very reasonably priced and will hold up to 18 8oz cups of water, it even came with 2 aluminium bottles. As you can tell it doesn't take up much room in the fridge.



Okay, so who's up for the challenge? Let see how many plastic bottles we can keep out of the landfill this year!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Exceptional Grace

Remember in school when you learned all the rules. Do you also remember that there are exceptions to rules; like -i before -e except after -c.?

Leviticus, the third book of the Old Testament, contains the laws; including dietary restrictions and rituals of worship, as well as details of ritual cleanliness. Many fundamentalist, people who believe in a strict adherence to the Bible, follow these laws. They live by the rules. Now, that sounds like a very reasonable thing to do; but is really?

In Acts 10: 9-16 Peter is told in a vision to not call anything impure that God has made clean. Now understand that Peter lived by the rules of only eating food that has been cleaned according to the law and now he is being told to eat this food that God has made clean. The story continues in verses 17-28 when Peter is ask to go to a Gentile's house. Jews viewed Gentiles as unclean . For Paul to enter Cornelius home he was saying the he would not call any man impure. Paul was living by the exception to the rules.

The choice is the same for us. Will we be bound by the rules of being friends with people who believe just as we do or will we be more interested in the exceptions. It is not always easy to lay down those rules that we have spent a life time following, but isn't that exactly what God is asking us to do?

I have to believe that God is up to something, and that I should ere on the side of grace. So ask yourself; are you the type of person that lives by the rules? Or are you the type that lives by the exceptions?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

How Do You See The World?

When you go to a 3D movie, you have to wear special glasses or you will miss out on the special effects. No one wants to sit in the theater and watch a fuzzy picture while everyone around them is reaching out or dodging the spear aimed at the audience, but don't we do that every day?
Have you ever tried to look at a situation from someone else's perspective? It is not an easy feat. I know I usually think I'm right and everyone else is wrong, but is that really the case? Is it really possible that I am always right and everyone else is just missing the big picture? I have to admit that it is very unlikely that I know more that everyone else. I am like the individual who sits out there without the 3D glasses on wondering why everyone isn't seeing what I'm seeing.
Our sermon was about seeing things differently. Now I'm not much of a Christian praise band music lover, but the band performed Brandon Heath's song Give Me Your Eyes.


The chorus goes something like this:
Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
Ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see


In other words, he is asking to see through the eyes of Jesus. If you did try and do that, would you change the decisions you make? Would you change your behavior? Would you still curse that guy who cut you off in traffic if you knew that his son was being rushed to the hospital? Would you refuse to leave a tip to the waiter who spilled your soup because he was distracted by the because he's being evicted for not being able to pay his rent? Many times we miss the opportunities that are right there in front of us. Then we are faced with living with those regrets. I for one, do not want to have a life filled with regrets.
There's a '98 Gwyneth Paltrow movie titled Sliding Doors . After loosing her job Paltrow's character, Helen, has her life take two different paths because of a very small jester. In one story, her life goes on as if she made the tube. Where as in the other version, the door slide closed causing her life to take a very different path.
It can be just that simple for us too. One small event may cause our lives to take a very different path. Or better yet, we could be the one who changes another's life. We could let that guy in front of us so that he can get where he needs to be, or give that deserving waiter a decent tip and allow them to be able to pay their bills. I would like to be able to change my perspective. I want to look at those around me with love and understanding, instead of with a selfish insipid sense of entitlement.
I am going to change the way I see the world....

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sam Bradlley Live



After listened to Classic Rock for the past IDK how many years, I finally broke free of the Grateful Dead rut I was in and started listing to more modern Indy Rock music. May people who haven't known me for very long would be surprised that I had such narrow musical taste. Others, that have known me for years, can't believe how eclectic my current playlist has become. I can't contribute my recent open-mindedness to any one event, but I am enjoying the freedom to download copious amount of music on my Zune.



I have written about Sam Bradley and my love of his music before. I have also seen YouTube clips and downloaded free MP3 songs from ReverNation. I've known that he puts on shows in the Vancouver area where he lives, but being here in the deep south I seriously doubted I'd ever get to see him.




Then it happened, I read on his MySpace blog, that he was going to be in Nashville. Well, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to drive a mere 350 miles to see him perform in the intimate setting of 3rd and Lindsley.




Yes, the show was incredible. Sam got on stage at 8p and played non stop for an hour. He was funny, charming and very personable.



video




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I was also able to see him in NOLA at the House of Blues several month later, and he was just as gracious and wonderful as he was in Nashville.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

tattoos are addictive!




I’ve given a great deal of thought to getting another tattoo. Now, for those of you who don’t know me, I used to say that I was only going to get one tattoo. When I was younger I got a tattoo on my left shoulder of a shaman. Ever since then I've wanted another one. I ended up putting flames around the shaman. It looks like the figure is dancing in the fire. I thought be adding the fire I hadn't actually broken my oath to only have one tattoo. For a while I considered adding a tattoo of the earth behind the fire so that it looked like the world was on fire. Then the reality of the size the earth would have to be, to be recognizable, set in and I decided against doing that. Now I’m back to the point where I still want a tattoo. If my mother is reading this her mouth is wide open and she’s saying, “NO!” but come on Mom, get over it.

Anyway the whole point is to get your input. Please help me decide which tat I should get and where I should get the it. I especially like the "tribal" type tats. The one above is the symbol for Gemini, which is appropriate. I also like the idea of something Celtic in nature.



As for location, I want it to be seen, but not all of the time. My foot maybe? Or my ankle? The nape of my neck? Any other suggestions? Some of the ideas I have are probably out of my budget, but they are so cool! Please look at the ideas below and let me know what you think. You can pause the slide show and read the label by moving your mouse over it. Remember I need an idea of where to get it and which one you like. Thanks for you input!




Sunday, February 8, 2009

Moonlight

I recently posted a video of one of my favorite musicians, Sam Bradley. If you haven't hear him sing you really should. His voice is soulful and sexy. The exciting news is that he is currently in Paris cutting an album.

I also posted about a current favorite book series just last week. You must put Clarissa Clare's The Mortal Instruments books on your library list. I promise you will enjoy both of these books and don't forget book three, City of Glass, comes out this March.



Now I have to tell you about my all time favorite TV series, Moonlight. No not Moonlighting, just Moonlight. It was last seasons most highly rated show on Friday night. Sadly, CBS did not commission a second season. I understand that fans had started an internet campaign to try to bring back Moonlight. Hopes have been raised and dashed several times, but it doesn't look like we are going to see Mick St. James anytime soon.



I didn't start watching Moonlight until the second to the last episode. After watching it for the first time I about fell out of my chair. The acting was sensational and the plot line was exceptional. I can't say anything bad about this series. The DVD from the first season was release recently. I had it on the top of my Netflix query and have spent the past two weekend transfixed by Mick and Beth's relationship. There are 4 disk in the collection so give yourself time to sit back and watch. You can also check your local listing, I believe the SCI-FI is showing re-runs every Friday night, but I recommend starting from the beginning.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Mortal Instruments Series

I know, I know I haven't posted in a coons age. Sorry but I've been a bit burned out what with NaBloPoMo and the the holidays, but I promise *fingers crossed* to make an effort.


I thought I'd take a moment and post a books series that I recommend reading. Like the last series that I read, an on-line friend recommended this book and I'm hooked. The first book in Cassandra Clare's series of The Mortal Instruments is City of Bones. I would describe this book as a science-fiction urban fantasy with a twist. Here we meet Clary a 16 year old artist going to an all-ages club with her best friend Simon. While there she witnesses three shadowhunters; Jace, Isabelle and Alec, kill a demon boy. Since she is the only one who can see the shadow-hunters, Clary begins to question her whole world. This ability to see through the glamour, and her missing mother lead her into a life she never could have imagined.



As much as she wants her life to go back to the way it used to be, the magical world of the fairies, werewolves, vampires, and shadowhunters has its hold on the young Clary. In the second book, City of Ashes, Clary continues her search for her mother, who she now knows was once a shadowhunter herself. All the enjoyable characters from City of Bones are there, ready to give you the ride of your life. And it is a ride you will truly enjoy!



The third book in the series, City of Glass is due to be released this March. I have so many questions I want answered which I won't voice since I don't want to give any spoilers away. I did, however, read a review that blew my socks off and thought I'd pass the link along to you here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Too Far Gone

I have a new favorite song that I wanted to share with everyone. I realize my favorites change with the breeze, but this guy is really worth a listen.




If you like him you can download this song and one other here.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” mahatma gandhi