Random Music Survey!

Remember I said that I’d talk about music sometimes? Well, today is that day! I found a music survey that I liked so I decided to complete (most of) it with my own answers. I don’t use quotation marks because this is not an English term paper. Fun stuff…

1. What are you listening to right now?

Love Don’t Live Here Anymore by Rose Royce — I have my old iPod Touch on shuffle and that came on. This is one of the songs in my vocal range, so I enjoy singing along and being dramatic (this song is dramatic as hell). You know how that is (I think?). Madonna is a fan of the song also, she covered it for two of her albums (Like a Virgin and Something to Remember). I the instrumentation, back when whole orchestras backed a group. It sounds like percussion done by Hit Stix though…

2. What song(s) make(s) you sad?

That changes from day to day. Seriously. When I broke up with a musician I was upset because he ruined all of my favorite songs (he used to sing to me – blech). The whole U2 catalog would upset me. I’m over that. Okay – Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler. That song was written to make you sad though. I’m trying to think of something odd that makes me sad…hmm…okay…Like a Stone by Audioslave. I shouldn’t have to explain why. Oh, and Bruises by Chairlift. There used to be this viral video of a mother squirrel and a baby squirrel trying to climb up rocks and this song was the background. Every time the song comes on I get a little teary. It’s not sadness though (the squirrels were fine), it’s just emotional.

3. What is the most annoying song in the world?

Okay…I love this song, but, especially being the month that it is, September by Earth, Wind and Fire. Haha! Only because my family and I say “Bah-Dee-Ya” to each other, text it to each other, send made up memes to each other and I end up singing it for the rest of the day. It’s a total earworm.

4. Your all time favorite band?

It’s actually a toss-up between U2 and The Cure. U2 used to edge them out (no pun intended – ha!), but Lovesong was always my favorite song. Number one favorite song, no ties for first place there for 30 years now. Now I find myself listening to The Cure more than U2.

5. Best female voice?

Donna Summer. Hands down. She sings with such an ease – there is no straining or caterwauling. She sounds like she’s just effortlessly having a sing-songy conversation. That’s what I like in a female voice. That’s why Adele and Mariah Carey’s voices bother me so (Mariah, a little less, but I can’t stand Adele’s voice). I love Diana Ross also. I mean, she can talk through a song with her voice and it’s incredible. Tori Amos, love her voice. She’s another good-range-sing-along for me. I say that as Pretty Good Year plays on my iPod. Karen Carpenter. She’s can freaking play the drums while singing with that smooth voice. Tracey Thorn from Everything But the Girl has a crazy smoothness that I love. Bjork has a unique voice that I really love.

6. Best male voice?

Steve Perry from Journey. Seriously. I was a fan before the whole “Don’t Stop Believin'” craze. What’s funny is – I like my male singers with some straining and scratch.  Eddie Vedder’s voice I like. Chris Cornell – of course! Okay, here’s a smooth male singer – Freddie Mercury. I like Marvin Gaye’s smoothness too, especially in that song (one of my all time favorites).

7. Music type you find yourself listening to most?

Anything rock and the rock sub-genres. Although, I find myself listening to older R&B a lot more now. I think it’s because I have that old lady nostalgia kicking in. I mean, I listen to Vanessa Williams Dreamin’, Lisa Fischer How Can I Ease the Pain and Ralph Tresvant Sensitivity like “They don’t make songs like this no more! That is CLASSIC! They didn’t have to take off their clothes (sorry, Vanessa)! You could understand what they were saying!” The whole old lady schpeal. By the way, Selena did a pretty good Sensitivity.

8. What do you listen to, to hype you up?

Dance music! Like old house music, 90s dance stuff. Corona Rhythm of the Night, anything by Expose, Show Me Love by Robin S. I’m like one of the Night at the Roxbury guys that way. Oh yeah! Plus What’s My Name by DMX. I feel crazy after that. Or even, Party Up and One More Road to Cross. The entire …And Then There Was X album, I guess. When I was feeling stifled at work a while ago (yeah, that’s a good way to put it), I actually had to tell myself not to listen to Party Up during my commute. Haha!

9. What do you listen to when you want to calm down?

70’s Soft Rock – Steely Dan, Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon, Elton John (“…Mars ain’t the kinda place to raise you kids, in fact it’s cold as hell…” Love that entire verse!), Fleetwood Mac, etc. BUT – my main “Calm Down, Erika” song is Hey Jude. Whenever something is stressing me out I either listen to it, if I have a device around, but most of the time I sing it to myself. The entire thing, “na-na na na” and all. I even call it my “Hey Jude Meditation”! the lyrics even have an inspiring and calming effect “…it’s just you, hey Jude you’ll do, the movement you need is your shoulder…”

10. Last gig/concert you went to?

Rachel Barton Pine at the Bardavon Opera house last year. More recently, the Susan Tobocman Jazz Quartet at The Flatiron Room in June (I was on a swanky date).

11. Band you find yourself listening to the most right now?

My car still has a CD player – a six disc changer at that – so I pretty much keep the same cds in my car. U2 Greatest Hits, The Police – Every Breath You Take: The Singles, The Cure – Mixed Up and The Cure – Galore. The other two cds I rotate with old r&b compilation cds or dance music compilations. I listen to old stuff from high school a lot more now.

12. Most hated band?

I don’t really hate a band. I usually just hate some song by a band, and even then I’ll end up knowing all of the lyrics.

13. Song that makes you think?

For the Love of Money by the O’Jays. It’s pretty clear what the song is about, I’m just always puzzled that it has been used positively in so many commercials over the years, just because of the catchy “Money Money Money…” part. Didn’t they ever see New Jack City? I even heard someone play the bass line in a church as the collection plate was being passed. He was being funny, but…

OH! And all of the street harassment songs. Yeah, there are so many songs that make street harassment seems like a cute, funny thing. It’s not. Examples: I Got a Man by Positive K, Nu-Nu by Liddel Townsell and, I hate to say it, but That Lady by The Isley Brothers. That Lady is my jam though. I will car dance embarrassingly to that whenever it comes on.

14. Band that you think the world should love as much as you do?

The Spinners. Okay. I know that they are well loved in the black community, but they had to have an Unsung episode. Come on now.

15. Coolest music video?

Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel was so cool to me back in the late 80s. It used to scare my cousin too, so that made it even better (heh heh – evil laugh).

Now, I talk about how much I dislike this person, but 7/11 by Beyonce. My cousin (same cousin) and I have the moves down and she calls it “The Beyonce Workout”! I like it, because it shows her playful side (eww, that sounded fan-like, but I’m not at all). I like Solange a lot though, and I love the video for Losing You. It makes me want to be my awkward self in South Africa. I want that brick suit.

Janet Jackson’s Pleasure Principle! She’s just so cool in this video. I wanted to be in a warehouse, all alone, dancing aggressively. I remember when I was about 7 or 8 and my mom was straightening my hair with the hot comb. We were sitting by the hot stove and I said to her “I want my hair as straight as Janet Jackson’s in the Pleasure Principle video!” She said, “As straight as her WIG!” I was taken aback. It was then that I knew my mom was a hater. Ha!

16. Music video with the most babe watch?

Another Janet one. Even though this guy is a Republican (that matters), Antonio Sabato Jr. was so cute in this video! I don’t know. Give It To You by Jordan “Leather Wearin’ in the Summertime” Knight! Ha! I haven’t watched videos in a while. Plus, this is a silly question.

17. What do you play/would you play in the bedroom to spice things up?

I really don’t know. I get hyped up in a different way from music – I just want to listen to more of it and sing along and dance not, you know. I remember when I was about 14, before I was acquainted with “bedroom spice”, my best friend and I thought that Enigma’s MCMXC a.D. was the perfect album to lose your virginity to. I guess we’d seen Sliver too many times. Yeah. No. I still laugh a little to myself when Sadeness Part 1 comes on my iPod!

18. Can you play a musical instrument?

My voice, I guess. My brother and I actually have “perfect pitch”. It’s funny. I was the only one who could sing around him, without him getting mad, when he was younger.

19. Ever been in a mosh pit?

Nope, never.

20. Are you in a band?

Nope.

21. Last song that you heard on the radio/CD…etc…?

Well, I am listening to Enigma now for a laugh! Callas Went Away

22. What do you think of Classical music?

I love it! I have actually attended more classical music concerts than I have of any other genre.

23. What do you think of Country music?

It’s okay. I like Patsy Cline a lot. That smooth voice of course. Crazy is an amazing karaoke song, and I like Dolly Parton, of course. Fancy by Reba McEntire is a great song. At one point Georgia by Hanson was the number one most played song on my famous iPod (so proud). I went to the Grand Ole Opry last year, and I saw Exile, Charles Esten and Carrie Underwood. It was a great experience, but I wasn’t like “F–k yeah! Country! Woo!” Maybe I am an undercover country fan, I don’t know. I don’t hate it.

OH! Elvira was my favorite song when I was 3 or 4 years old! I think I liked the guy with the deep voice. Okay, I LOVE THIS! I remember when music wasn’t as segregated as it is now. Dolly Parton was on regular radio and Hee Haw was awesome…Those were the days!

24. Do you listen to music in foreign languages?

Yes! I love world music. I love this medley from Brazil. It is in heavy rotation on the epic iPod. I like flamenco as well (I once dated a guy who played the flamenco guitar – that’s how I was exposed). I love this – three generations of flamenco singers! Their voices are so similar, love it.

25. Funny concert moment?

Ben Folds at Bohagers in Baltimore, 2001. The entire show was just hilarious! It was like half stand-up, half music and it was awesome. He pulled out his keytar and starting making up songs. Great show!

26. What do/did your parents listen to?

My dad used to buy every top 40 album there was back in the 80s. He wasn’t a real music fan. My mom though, she listened to Aerosmith, Hall and Oates, America, Rick James, Charlie Rich – a real mix. I know all of the words on Hall and Oates Rock ‘n Soul Part 1. I still love Private Eyes. My little brother used to sing the lyrics to Kiss on My List as “Because your HIPPOPOTAMUS, is the best thing in life…” I still sing those lyrics sometimes. America is one of my favorite bands too. I have been influenced!

27. Songs that give you the chills

I have an actual eargasm when I hear Someday We’ll Be Together by The Supremes. Lots of songs do it to me sometimes, but that ALWAYS makes the hair on my arms stand up. It’s such a well done masterpiece, from beginning to end. I Heard it Through the Grapevine by Marvin Gaye, does it a lot, too. OH! And I Want You Back by The Jackson 5! Go Motown! When Linda Ronstadt did Ooh Baby Baby, that’s another one that gives me chills. I’m sure there’s more. There is! Electric Feel by MGMT,  Midnight City by M83.

28. Do you listen to rap?

Yes. Nothing super new though, and with rap there is always something new so I’m way behind. The latest “album” I bought was Drake’s More Life and I listened to Passionfruit over and over again like a teenager. I like Drake (of course, I’m a girl). It’s cute to see and listen to his sensitivity from afar, as opposed to actually dealing with someone like him in real life. He’s such a dweeb (that’s a compliment)! I mean, he wrote an entire song that is basically “I had sex with Jennifer Lopez”! Ha! Dork! I agree with Chris D’elia’s assessment of Drake though.

I do like Kanye, despite his life. 808s & Heartbreak is like a dark comedy, brilliant. I know he was in a lot of pain at the time, but this album makes me laugh, like a wtf laugh. Imagine if your psycho ex had access to a recording studio, it would sound a little like 808s & Heartbreak. When I hear Paranoid, I’m like “I think my ex said this projected crap to me – word for word!”. It’s genius.

So, there were more questions but I cut them out. I’m sure I’ll do another music survey again…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eclipse Mode…

The eclipse has passed, but I still managed to complete a couple of “rituals” that are supported by the energy of the eclipse. The first thing that I did was break out my crystals

Crystals
I took them outside right before the eclipse, notice the shadows…

…Hematite and petrified wood to be exact. Both of these crystals bring forth a calming energy. I really need that right now. I am doing a lot right now and I need to chill out about it. It’ll be wonderful.

Hematite is great for grounding and stability and the petrified wood is great for easing worries and bringing about good fortune in business ventures (yay!). OKAY – so, about the crystals. Yes, I believe that if I believe that they are bringing the energy that they are supposed to bring then they will bring that energy. The Law of Attraction. Manifesting. I believe in all of that. ANYWAY. That brings me to meditation

Breathe Deep.PNG

I did manage to have a short meditation during the eclipse. It felt amazing! I was able to concentrate in a way that I haven’t been able to in a long time. I used a great mantra as well…

True Love
My mantra…

About love…

I WAS the type of person who was too busy for love. I WAS more concerned with myself and my goals (…the next one, and the next one, and the next one…), than I was with getting deeply involved with someone. I have been very self-involved for the past TEN YEARS! In 2007, I ended a not-so-good relationship (no deets here, sorry). After that, I threw myself into my studies, work and the endless pursuit of knowledge. So far I have received four degrees (AS, BS, MA, MPS…) and countless certifications (I’m an Offender Workforce Development Specialist and I’m certified to teach preschool through third grade in NJ – I’ve done work in prisons and preschools the whole spectrum!).

Of course, I have dated in these 10 years. I’ve had a couple of several monthers here and there, but nothing long-long-term. I realized that I usually approach dates like job interviews (occupational hazard). Not that I am cold and questioning, not at all, I’m a warm and excited person naturally, but I do have that mental checklist. We can have a great time, but I know by the end of the date if you are going to “get the job”. A lot of guys haven’t! When I realize they aren’t getting the job, that’s when I turn cold.

I thought, perhaps, I should be a little less judgey-wudgey (my mom doesn’t call me “Frasier Crane” for nothing). Nah. Having standards is necessary in today’s world. I think I need to be…MYSELF! My self is fine, always has been. I just need to be more open to possibilities…

Speaking of which, Sage Smudging (nice segue)!

Sage

Here is a great article on how to smudge and what materials you need! I didn’t smudge today. I am actually saving it for this Saturday at 7:32 am, my Venus Return. That’s so close to being a literal “total eclipse of the heart”. Speaking of which (better segue)…

Lazy Friday (?)

More like lazy days in general…

I’m supposed to be happy today. It’s Friday! I just haven’t been up for much lately. I have been trying to figure out why and here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

1) I am working from home more…A few months ago I got the option to go back to consultant status and work from home whenever I wanted. Boy, have I taken advantage of that! I only have to go in the office for the occasional meeting. While it’s pretty great, it’s kinda turned me into a shut-in. That’s because even though I’m home, I’m still on the clock. The emails, phone conferences and reports have not stopped just because I am not in the office. I still have to respond and actively participate because if I don’t, then am I really working? Hmm…I don’t want to have to answer that question.

So, I’m still at home, near a computer from 9-5. Why would I venture far?

Lighthouse
Random pic from my travels: Do you see the face in this building? Saugerties Lighthouse – Saugerties, NY

2) I have changed my lifestyle by way of food consumption…That’s a clever way to say I have been on a weight loss journey. Dieting, okay!

I was very happy with the way that I looked up until late August/early September of last year. It was then that I noticed I had put on about 15, 16 pounds. Did I do anything to take care of it at that point? Nope. In fact, I went on to gain 20 more pounds by the end of the year! So when January rolled around, it was clear that I had to make some kind of weight loss related resolution.

How did I gain so much weight? Well, last year, I went on a lot of trips. Trips that included me eating at a lot of restaurants. Going to a lot of wine tastings. Ordering a lot of cocktails (never underestimate how many calories alcoholic beverages add!). I took a lot of lunches out of the office. I picked up snacks at 7-11 and Quick Chek a lot. At one point I thought my veins pumped Burger King Chicken Nuggets, Trader Joe’s Macarons and whatever was in the latest Taco Bell Big Box. It was BAD.

So, this year I decided to take control and get back on track. It was actually kinda decided for me, now that I think about it. The main issue that I had was that I spent so much time in the office, so much time commuting, so little time eating real meals. WELL! Now I don’t have that excuse! After the initial sugar and fat detox (seriously, it takes about a month to get off of those “drugs”), it was very easy for me to get back into living a healthy lifestyle because I really enjoy cooking and I like using clean, nutritious, and sometimes odd, ingredients.

I’ve just been having such fun making meals for myself. No need to stop at a fast food place for dinner, I am already home, whippin’ up a huge, healthy taco salad (taco salads are my life). I go to the gym, that’s going “somewhere”, right?

Oh, and I’ve already lost the weight I put on (yay)! I just want to be a little more “tight”, “tighten”…

Teal Me
Tealin’ Myself: Yup, this is what I do when I’m bored.

3) I haven’t seen anything that has struck my fancy…SERIOUSLY. I belong on every event and ticket related mailing list, I have several event/ticket apps and I keep up with events on Facebook. Nothing has been interesting enough for me to go. I had plans to visit somewhere in March, I had my Amtrak ticket and everything. But, the day before, there was a major snowstorm! Okay, so I rescheduled my ticket. Then I rescheduled it again. And again. And again. I have literally (not figuratively) rescheduled my trip over 10 times.

Here is part of the actual email:

Amtrak Receipt.jpg
Yup, I’m dweeby enough to do this. I am rescheduling again soon!

I don’t know. Maybe I’ll go in September…

I’m hoping things pick up in the fall! I’m sure they will, there are a couple of events I am looking at and want to attend. For now, I’m just being dweeby…

 

Taco Tomato Tuesday (I Won!)

I think I might have won Taco Tuesday. I know, it’s not a contest. But, if it was, I’d be taking home a blue ribbon right now!

So, I was inspired to make this from one of those videos on Facebook. I wish I could remember which site, because I’d totally shout them out (ETA: I remember! It from Delish!). In the video, they used regular sized tomatoes. I took one look and thought “One GIANT tomato!!!” So, I went to the farmers market and set out to find the biggest most beautiful tomato I could find…And I found a one pounder…

Big Tomato
This pic doesn’t do it justice!

Hey – It is huge, yes. However, it’s a tomato. It’s not a deep fried taco shell or a (not carb friendly) flour tortilla. It’s a tomato. A big , beautiful, locally grown tomato. I feel very good about eating the entire thing in one sitting. So, anywho…

I start by slicing this huge tomato. I don’t want to slice all the way down and I kind want to fan it out, like this:

Slices
That slice on the end missed the memo…

Then, I season that bad boy! Yes. The tomato itself must be well seasoned. I learned that from Rachael Ray – you have to season every part of the dish to get maximum flavor. I used Trader Joe’s Chile Lime seasoning, Trader Joe’s Pink Himalayan Salt, garlic powder and fresh cracked black pepper.

Seasoning
“Flavor every layer…” – Rachael Ray

Then, I fry my ground turkey (sorry no pics). I use the same seasonings I use for the tomato.

I top the tomato with the fried ground turkey and top that with a few slices of pepperjack cheese.

Cheese
I LOVE cheese!

I place the loaded tomato in my toaster oven, set on broil. Really just to melt the cheese and in the meantime, I get my guacamole ready…

Guac
These are the small avocados. One was perfect for this recipe…

I make the easiest guac in the world. I just use an avocado (duh), lime juice and Trader Joe’s Chile Lime seasoning (can you guess what my favorite store is?). That’s it.

So, I didn’t take a picture of my tomato just out of the toaster oven. I was so excited to get all of my taco topping on it. Take a look…

The Taco Tomato
WOW! Delish!

This is easily THE MOST DELICIOUS THING I’VE EVER MADE!

Wow! I think I owe it all to the hearty, delicious, juicy, incredible tomato I got at the farmers market on Saturday. That made all the difference!

MAKE THIS! It’s so easy (it’s a taco, in a tomato) and so delicious. YUM!!!

 

Freak-Out Friday…

I turned 38 on Sunday (yay). Almost 40. Awesome. For the past couple of years I have noticed that things are changing, physically.

The Hair…

I have five to six gray hairs now, which is fine. Seriously. I only had one gray hair about three years ago, and now I have six. That rate of growth is nothing to be alarmed about. I have so much hair that you’d really have to take a mini flashlight and a tongue depressor (thinking back to those crazy elementary school lice check-ups!) and search my hair to find them. I take fenugreek and I use it topically, which is supposed to help darken hair/keep it dark. Also, whatever. I’ll dye it if it starts to become “too much” for me, but not a moment sooner than that (I like my natural hair color – plus only SIX HAIRS!).

Hair Care
Pre-Poo: Coconut oil and aloe vera for moisture ~ Fenugreek for growth and darkening…

So, I’m sorta “at peace” with my grays…

The “Puff”…

I now get bloated and put on visible, obvious water weight about a week before and during my period. My face gets super puffy and everything (incl. hands, feet, tummy) gets so flippin’ bloated!

This has never happened to me before! In fact, in the past, when I would see commercials for PMS medications I used to think “…Bloated? Water retention? Does that really even happen? Heh, heh…” – YES! It happens, young fool! This is a fairly recent phenomenon for me too – I just started noticing this last fall! I can’t even weigh myself until I am in the clear also, because that water puts on at least FIVE POUNDS. Seriously, at least…

So, what do I do about it? I don’t take a pill for it (even though I was seriously tempted one time because I had a date the next day). I like to make detox/debloat drinks. I’ve tried a couple of different recipes, and I’ve found that anything with green tea and ginger and/or turmeric works pretty well. I just make different combinations of those three ingredients and it seems to help. Iced green tea with lemon and ginger is my favorite.

They say that drinking and eating these foods/drinks/spices help:

  • Cucumber
  • Parsley
  • Green Tea
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric (the BEST anti-inflammatory spice!)
  • Lemon
  • Watermelon
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Dandelion Tea (I haven’t had this, but I know it’s a big part of Jillian Michaels’ detox, so it might be worth a try…)
  • Cranberry Juice
  • Water – Lots of water, of course!

Here are a few of the combinations I’ve tried:

Detox Drinks
Detox~De-Bloat! l to r: Black Lemonade (activated charcoal), Lemon-Ginger Green Tea, Cucumber-Parsley Green Tea and a shot of ACV with Ginger and Turmeric!

At least I get to try different home remedies and recipes, which is lots of fun for me. Especially if I get to buy a new gadget. I’ll have to think of some…

The Eyes…

Probably the most superficial thing, the thing that really irks me: the changes to my under-eye area.

Now, I’ve always had a hollow under-eye area. I have high cheekbones with chubby cheeks, so that just naturally occurs.

Young Erika Hollows
2nd Grade Under-Eye Area!

It didn’t bother me until a couple of years ago, when I noticed that on top of being “hollow” they were also getting darker (sounds familiar – “Erika and the Deathly Dark Undereye Hollows”…).

So, when I’m tired (which is every-single-morning now), I look like this:

Older Erika Hollows
ZERO MAKEUP! You can see the darkness, even with the old-timey filter…

Eventually, during the course of the day and with the help of concealer, the darkness is less obvious. But it’s jarring to me – because I’m not used to it!

I’m also not used to: Undereye dryness.

I must’ve been such a jerky youngster. I used to see commercials for eye cream and think “C’mon! These women are being so dramatic. Do you really need that?” YES! Skin changes over the years, especially around the eyes!

I used to have an oily under-eye area. I remember when I worked in a department store, at age 20, I would use the tissue paper from the bagging area to blot my face. I’d have to blot my forehead, nose AND under my eyes. NOW, I’d kill for some excess under-eye oil! The dryness is what emphasizes fine lines, so I’m learning that I have to keep that area SUPER HYDRATED. I told my mom about my issue and she bought me this:

Josie Oil
Josie Maran Argan Oil – Light – because I’m sensitive…

She said that it’s not enough to use my regular moisturizer (even though it’s a cream), I have to add an oil or serum beforehand. She’s right! My skin looks and feels so much better when I use the oil! I don’t use this only around the eyes. I use it on the dry patches around my nose, around my lips and to condition my eyebrows. It’s great! I highly recommend it. My mom got me the “Light” formula because she knows how sensitive my skin is, and I haven’t had any reactions to it. I combine it with my First Aid Beauty and it’s great!

I’m sure I’ll notice more as time goes on, but for now…

Thirsty Thursday – Summertime!

I have made some awesome beverages since the summer started. They hardly get any love on Instagram, even though the photos are gorge and they taste delish (yes, so good I have to use the shortened words)! So here they are, in their beautiful, refreshing glory…

We’ll start with Beet-Ginger Lemonade

Beet Ginger Lemonade
This is not a petri dish…

This screenshot was taken from a short video demonstrating how awesome my frother is (I LOVE MY FROTHER!)!

I make the beet ginger lemonade in 16 oz mason jars. The ingredients below are for one mason jar:

  • 1 teaspoon of ginger (I like lots of ginger! You can use less, more…)
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice (a scant 1/4 cup, not over & I’ll show what I use below)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of beet powder
  • Enough water so the jar is almost full
  • Several drops of liquid stevia (to taste, you have to find your perfect dropper amount) AND…the secret ingredient…
  • The juice from half an orange!

Just blend this all up until it looks pink and lovely! The orange adds more sweetness and goes so well with the beet flavor. I might have Beet Orangeade coming up soon!

Now, on to the trendy recipe – Mermaid Lemonade!

Mermaid Lemonade
Okay, don’t let the sea monkey-looking stuff on top scare you. It’s just algae…whoops…

See, remember how I said that I don’t really keep up with food trends? Well, here is another exception to that rule. Spirulina. I actually like it. Not only is it good for detoxing your body (or making it feel detoxed), loaded with vitamins – it makes things pretty. And that’s the most important thing.

Again, 16 oz mason jar servings:

  • 1/4 cup of the lemon juice I’ll show you below
  • Several drops of liquid stevia
  • 1/3 teaspoon of spirulina powder
  • Water until jar is almost full

Mix with your frother(!) or you can put the top on and shake for more fun!

Okay, now for something exotic…

Prickly Pear Lemonade

Prickly Pear Lemonade

 

You know how you have that sense memory, and if you smell or taste something it just takes you back? That’s what happened when I made this. It reminds me of a brunch I had at Citrus in NYC several years ago. I had Crab Cakes Benedict (eggs, hard poached. Yes, I’m that dweeb) and Prickly Pear Lemonade. It was my first time tasting prickly pear and I was a little nervous. Why? Because I have so many odd allergies, duh (dweeb). But it was delicious! And I wasn’t allergic! So, I had the brunch and then I saw Shel’s Shorts – 14 Short Plays by Shel Silverstein – it was a nice Sunday!

Anyway…I was at my local fruit stand and I saw a tiny basket of these magenta fruits and I had to buy one and try to make that lemonade I had all those years ago (well, only like 9 years ago, but whatever)…

First, break down the pear:

  • 1 prickly pear
  • 16 oz water

Blend in your blender (Nutribullet, Ninja, Vitamix, whatever) until smoothish. Use a fine mesh strainer to add the mix to:

  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice (it’s coming, I swear!)
  • Several drops of liquid stevia
  • Water to fill the jar

Put on the lid and shake, or mix with your frother!

I can’t really describe the flavor. Okay, maybe like a deeper watermelon. Like a watermelon with depth. You know what I mean. Heartier! Yes! A heartier watermelon. Phew!

So, now that I’ve finished up the lemonade section I can finally show the juice I use…

Lemon Base
The “secret” lemon juice…

Ta-da! That’s it! Santa Cruz Organic Pure Lemon Juice! I’m sure you have some already, I was just being dramatic. I use this in everything! I’ll buy bottles of unsweetened tea, add this and stevia and bam! It tastes like something I’d actually want to drink!

Speaking of iced tea…

Here’s some Goji Berry Green Tea for ya!

Goji Green Tea
Goji Green Tea! That’s all I got…

So, to me, goji berries taste similar to craisins (that was easy), and they have some great health benefits, such as antioxidants, which make it known as a superfood. I added it to another superfood, green tea, and it tastes great! I am a fan of this one…

For 3, 16 oz mason jar servings:

  • 3 mason jarfuls of water
  • 9 green tea bags (they don’t have to be special, unless you want them to be…)
  • The juice of three limes
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of goji berries
  • Liquid stevia drops, to taste

I like to put a heaping tablespoon of the goji berries in each of the jars first. Then juice each of the limes in each jar. While the juice and the berries sit in the jar, I bring water to near boil in a saucepan (I’m fancy) and add the tea bags. Let them steep, but not for too long because green tea gets bitter quickly. I remove the tea bags and pour the green tea over the goji-lime mix. After all of that I add the stevia drops…

Then, into the fridge and a few hours later…beautiful, tasty tea!

Speaking of beautiful tea…I’ll end this post with my favorite tea and favorite beverage picture…

Grapefruit Green Tea

Grapefruit Green Tea

This is my favorite! I love grapefruit! I am a fan of tartness and this is just so perfectly tart and sweet! Yum!

For 3, 16 oz mason jar servings:

  • 3 mason jarfuls of water
  • 9 green tea bags (whatever brand…)
  • The juice of three ruby red grapefruits
  • Liquid stevia drops, to taste

It’s so simple, too. I mean, just juice and strain the grapefruits right into each jar and make the tea, like I painstakingly explained in the last recipe, and combine! Add your stevia in the end and, yay! Delicious…

Actually, with all of these recipes, you might think you added enough stevia but once you taste them a day or two later, you will want to add a few more drops. That’s just what I’ve found.

Yay! So, make these drinks before summer ends! I can’t believe it’s August already! Next week, where I in the Hudson Valley, it’s supposed to be rainy and in the mid-70s! Wow! Actually, if it wasn’t raining I’d be really happy about the temperature drop (I hate the heat)…

 

Wellness Wednesday!

I seem like a very calm, serene person. Someone I once worked with called me “the definition of laidback”. That’s fine. That’s awesome. But, while it looks that way, that’s not the way it is. Think about ducks. They look so smooth and graceful gliding across a pond, but under the water they are paddling for their lives. That’s how it really is with me. I am quiet and cool, but inside my mind is racing, going a mile a minute. I am think about the past (“I wonder what would’ve happened if I…”), present (“It’s too warm in here, I might get a headache”) and future (“I think I’ll have pancakes for breakfast tomorrow. Probably not tomorrow, maybe next Monday”) – all at once. This is all happening while I’m listening to music, checking an app notification, working on my laptop and watching tv on closed captioning at the same time. It never stops – and that’s good! I do enjoy living this way, the Multi-Tasking Life, but I do need a break from it every once in a while.

About 12 years ago, to cope with the stress brought on by over-stimulation and overthinking, I began meditating. It was something I had heard and read about for years, and one day I decided “…that sounds like something I need in my life…” I picked up the book “The Complete Idiots Guide to Zen Living” and I was on my way.

Since then I have taken a couple of classes here and there – on the Alexander Technique and even aromatherapy – to add to my Zen/meditation repertoire. In 2008, I was lucky enough to take daily meditation classes at the Omega Institute during the Women and Power Workshop. There, we did seated and walking meditations at least twice a day on the gorgeous grounds. I don’t practice every day, I wish I did. In fact, and this is bad, I usually only practice when I am at the stress breaking point.

Omega Sanctuary
Steps leading to the Sanctuary at Omega Institute

When I do meditate, I really love the focus I give to my breathing. I have the tendency to, like most people, hold my breath when I am stressed out or in pain. It’s amazing how a deep breath, in and out, can help to relax you so much.

It sounds really simple, right? Just clear your mind of all thoughts, focus on your breath and chill out. Well, it’s not always easy for me to “clear my mind”. In fact, I don’t think I have ever completely “wiped the slate clean” while meditating. And that’s, okay. I can still feel blissful while a little something goes on in my mind. It usually ends up being something happy and hopeful instead of worries. There is something that helps though…

Guided Meditation and Imagery!

These styles of meditation can really help anyone who has a problem with focus. The guide talks you through your meditation, by telling you what types of breaths or movements to make (guided meditation) or by talking you through different imaginary scenarios that will help you get through whatever problems you’re having (guided imagery). I find it easier to concentrate on the music and/or the guide’s voice than to just sit in a quiet room and try to “clear my mind”.

It helps put me in a positive mindset. I like to listen to guided imagery before I do something important – before taking a test, giving a presentation, etc. it can really make you feel more powerful and confident.

It can also help you sleep. There are some great Youtube videos and podcasts out there with meditations specifically for helping you sleep. You have to find the ones that will work for you. Some make me fall asleep while I’m listening and some just make me feel relaxed but not sleepy.

As with anything – do what works for you!

The Tea Garden

Today I visited The Tea Garden, a new teahouse in my hometown of Middletown, New York, where they held a free morning guided meditation and breakfast bar.

Meditation Area
In front of the meditation area. I didn’t want to close my eyes!

It was great! Jillian, the owner and meditation guide was so knowledgeable and had so many tips and tricks.

I told her about how thoughts will sometimes intrude my meditation and she advised “…step outside of them and don’t get involved. Treat them as if you are a third party observer.” I actually found that really helpful during today’s meditation.

Oh – and there was also food! There are nothing but clean eats on the menu and they are all small, palate cleansing dishes. Nothing heavy, nothing to feel guilty about.

Today there were tea eggs, kidney beans, a variety of pickled and spiced veggies and, my favorite, steamed buns…

Steamed Buns
Steamed Chinese bread, steamed custard bun (nai wong bao) and spicy cucumber. To drink: “Double Beauty” – a mixture of tea and coffee and lemon ginger water…

So, I have to say, it was a pretty good “Wellness Wednesday”…

  • For more on guided imagery and meditation, visit Health Journeys.com
    • From that site, I enjoy guided imagery from Belleruth Naperseck and Lynne Newman. Lynne is a New Age practitioner who is local to me, and leads amazing guided meditations in person as well.
  • Some great podcasts:
    • Meditation Minis with Chel Hamilton
    • Sleep With Me: The Podcast That Puts You To Sleep (hilarious, actually)
    • Guided Meditations: The Yoga Bunny

Birthday Breakfast!

Today is my Solar Return day! Yay! To celebrate I decided to make a cheat-y breakfast. Peanut Butter Cup Pancakes! Peanut butter is my most favorite sweet thing in the world so I had to get it in somewhere today. These aren’t that bad for me either – not a real “fall-off-the-lifestyle-change-wagon” treat. Once you see the ingredients, you’ll know that it only looks and tastes unhealthy…

Pancake Ingredients
I feel pretty good about this!

See? Not bad, not bad at all…

PB Cup
Nom…

Okay, maybe the Justin’s Peanut Butter Cup. I only used one though!

I made the Kodiak Cakes batter according to the directions and added about two tablespoons of the Crazy Richard’s Pure PB Plus.

Once I got the mix in the pan I topped it with some of the chopped peanut butter cup…

In the Pan
I added more than this!

I only made two pancakes…and I forgot to take a picture until I was 2/3 done!

Pancakes - Eaten
#SorryNotSorry

It was worth every carb and calorie! Happy Birthday to me!

Zucchini Roses!

I saw something like this on “Tasty” or one of those random food videos on Facebook. The other recipe had carrots (blech), which made for a more colorful garden, but I think that yellow and green squash worked just fine. It also had a crust, but I am low-carbin’ it so no crust for me!

I started by making ribbons of the squash using my veggie peeler…

Zucchini Ribbons
The vegetable peeler makes great ribbons…

This time making ribbons wasn’t so bad. When I made Zucchini Lasagna in the crock pot it took forever to make the ribbons I needed to fill the pan, even only 1/4 of the way full! I used tiny squashes today, because I was just using my small Corningware dish.

Then I made the base of the “garden”…

All Cheeses
All the cheeses!

I mixed ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, garlic powder and Italian seasoning right in the dish. No need to measure, just mix in however much you want! I also added mozzarella on top of the mixture…

More Cheese
More cheese!

The cheese will help keep the “roses” together in the dish.

Then I started rolling and planting…

Zucchini Garden
Zucchini rose garden…

This part was a little bit more annoying than I though it would be. That’s only because I was hungry and I had no patience. Maybe I was even a little hangry. Just a bit…

I topped off my freshly planted roses with olive oil, more parmesan, salt and pepper…

Cheesed Up
All cheesed up

I popped the dish in the toaster oven for about 30-35 minutes and…

Zucchini Roses

Yay! Something new to add to the low-carb repertoire!

You’ll notice, I like to use the toaster oven a lot. This is especially the case in the summer. If I don’t have to turn on the oven, I don’t.

Try it, it’s easy! Enjoy!

Fresh Fruit Friday!

Okay – here’s where I get a little dweeby. I am admiring my past photos of fruit salad, from my Instagram, and sharing them here. Fruit is just so photogenic. Fruit and sushi are very photogenic, actually (random thoughts). So, here is my latest salad…

Fruit Salad 1
Usually with the kombucha…

I made this one on Independence Day…

Fruit Salad 2

Patriotic…

I must’ve been really thirsty when I made this one…

Fruit Salad 3
So refreshing…

So, I guess I was low on fruit here…

Fruit Salad 4
Not the best combination – I really felt like the pineapple was eating me back…

I needed some healthy fats to round out my salad here:

Fruit Salad 5
It helps to eat fruit salad with chopsticks…

I must’ve had a nighttime fruit craving…

 

Fruit Salad 6
So dark~bad lighting

And finally, this beauty below. It was so pretty, I had to take it outside to eat it (made for a nice photo)…

 

Fruit Salad 7
I will always try to live up to this one…

I’ll make sure to post regular fruit salad updates…