This is a Human Being

10426543_10152857462097390_840149706493974154_nThis is a human being. This is a person convicted of no crime. This is someone’s son. This is a loss. This is a death that will receive no trial.

Trials are how our justice system resolves questions about what happened, whether a crime was committed. Instead, under cover of darkness, a man stood and announced that no one would ask those questions. That there were no questions to be asked.

I have questions. The life of a human being has been taken. He will receive no trial as victim or accused. He is gone. A human being is gone forever. We should all ask the questions that the system refuses to ask. We should all mourn.

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Presidents Day- The Twitter Adventure Continues

FDR Monaco Stamo

It started in 2012 with a paid day off work and nothing else to do. For the third year, I’m back in the saddle with everyone’s favorite fellas- America’s presidents and the more interesting aspects of their lives and presidencies.

(ADDED) I also spoke with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about my favorite holiday this year. You can see their post here.

If you can’t get enough today on Twitter, here’s a recap of 2013’s fun facts and tawdry tidbits about the Commanders in Chief:

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Filed under Links, Lists, Politics on the Brain

Coming Soon…. Fall!

I am not wishing my summer away. This year we bought pool passes for the first time and as the summer goes on, more and more of our friends have joined in. After a summer by the pool, I finally caved in to so many cute vintage and retro-style bikinis. I have never worn a bikini in my life, but the vintage cuts that many clothing lines have out this summer are so much more flattering! I picked up this high-waisted skirt style bottom and it covers all of the right (or I guess, wrong, in my eyes) parts. I feel curvy and those few inches of my torso that stick out have never seen the sun before. It feels so good.

Of course, the minute that I found the perfect bikini, the blazing hot weather went away. We’re back down into the 70’s with cool evenings that call for a jacket. It’s like the weather wants me to start shopping for fall clothes. While summer may be my favorite season for lounging, fall is definitely the best clothing season- boots, tights, dresses, cardigans, jackets. It’s “back to school” every year and you can try out new looks and new costumes, decide who you want to be all over again.

After my success with a vintage look bikini, I was excited when Shabby Apple contacted me and offered to let me try out their vintage clothing. The retro styles don’t show too much skin and with a fall wedding on my agenda for Labor Day weekend, I couldn’t turn down the At Last dress.

As a redhead, I’m a sucker for a green dress. The wedding’s in upstate New York, so I should look great in front of the fall leaves. And this vintage look is just right for being covered up at the ceremony and has a swingy skirt for dancing the night away.

After the wedding, I can wear it to the office with a cardigan and heels. Or, because I’m thrilled that 90’s styles are also on the radar for fall, I can pair it with my brown combat boots for a weekend look and dress it down with some chunky leather bracelets and a military style canvas bag.

Once it arrives, I’ll post some photos of a few different looks. I think this will quickly become a new staple in my wardrobe!

(Note- Shabby Apple is giving me a free dress in exchange for this post. No money was exchanged, nor was content reviewed before posting.)

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Filed under Style

America

This is a little something that I threw together for the 4th. Ted Hawkins haunts me. My favorite patriotic song, accompanied by photos that I took. Bless us, every one.

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Filed under Links, Travel

Lazy Cajun Tofu Bowl

Lazy Cajun Tofu Bowl

We all have those nights where we just want to throw something on the table in under 20 minutes and get it in our bellies.

On those nights, if I can resist the urge to just order in, I throw together this treat- my own lazy Cajun tofu bowl. It’s vegetarian/ vegan and filling and spicy and keeps me from shoveling down a tray of nachos or pizza. Here’s how to make your own:

Ingredients:

One 14 oz package extra firm tofu

One large can Southern Style collard greens or mixed greens (if you’re a strict vegan or vegetarian, check the label- many brands offer a meat broth version and a vegetarian version)

1 1/2 cups of rice (I used leftover “forbidden rice” from the fridge, but any rice you have around will work- even the leftovers from Chinese)

Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning

3 tbs. oil (I used coconut, but vegetable or olive would work)

Optional: capers, hot sauce or Sriracha sauce

 

Remember, the goal here is to get it on the table. No fancy preparation, unless you feel like it!

- Cook your rice. If you are using leftovers like I did, just heat what you have. See, you’re already saving time!

-Heat the collard greens (leave in the liquid) in the microwave for four minutes. Drain. I like the seasoning in these.

collard greens

-While that’s cooking, pop open the tofu, dry it off with a paper towel, and cut into cubes. Sprinkle the cubes with your magic weapon:

Tony Chachere photo

Yep. It’s Creole, not Cajun. Those are different. We’re being lazy here.

-Heat a large skillet on medium and add your oil. I like the subtle flavor that coconut oil adds, but any kind will crisp up your little tofu buddies. Add the  tofu cubes and sautee’ for about 3 minutes on each side. I like mine a little crispy, so I usually go for five. They look like this:

tofu cooking

-And that’s it. I layered a giant helping of greens, then the rice (I love the black rice against the greens), and top with tofu. If you’re a spice fiend like me, drizzle with Sriracha and if you have a bottle of capers in the fridge, sprinkle a few on top to make yourself feel fancy.

Eat up. According to the LoseIt app, the whole thing rings in at 3 servings, 588 calories each. I couldn’t even finish my whole bowl.

 

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A Man Above Reproach

book of love

I think good news for fellow writers is even better than good news for myself. I can talk myself out of believing my own hype, but when it comes to the incredible writers that I know, I can dive in wholeheartedly and wallow around in their well-deserved accolades.

So, it made my day to find out that Evelyn Pryce is a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest for best romance entry! Who doesn’t love a juicy Regency story with a smart heroine and an enamored duke?

Amazon announces the finalists next month and I encourage you to download the FREE sample and throw all of your five-star reviews her way. You’ll hear more from this rising star- I bet my hat. If you’re an agent, a book blogger, a publisher of romance, don’t miss your chance to get in on the ground floor with this talented, hardworking writer.

Get your free sample HERE.

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Filed under Books, Friends, Reviews, Writing

Take Heart

heart nail

 

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and with it, there are hearts on every surface. But February is also National Heart Month and a great time to think about how to treat that ticker better and give it a long life. In November, I had the honor of walking with Team Jenny at the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk here in Pittsburgh. It was a cold. blustery day but it was hard not to feel inspired seeing the teams walking in honor of family members, friends, and to raise money for complete strangers. In addition, I met some amazing Jenny Craig success stories- women who had changed their lives by getting moving and taking their health to heart (pun alert!).

See- here’s the team, shivering and ready to hit the road!

Team Jenny

Since we’ve been eating healthier around here, The Lady is dropping pounds like crazy and heading to the gym to get her sweat on regularly. I’m working a lot these days, but I’ve been walking to the office in the evenings, and I’ve had the benefit of some heart-healthy meals from her strict attention to detail! My friends at Jenny Craig sent over some heart healthy tips that I wanted to pass along and a delicious recipe:

o Add a Pop of Color: Fill your plate with foods rich in water, fiber and protein and lower in fat. This principle known as the Volumetrics® Approach to eating allows you to eat more food, feel fuller and add nutrients with fewer calories. For example, mixing non-starchy vegetables, such as tomatoes, broccoli and peppers, into your pasta dish will lower the calorie density and enlarge your portion.

o Move More: Physical activity is a key component to weight loss success and keeping your heart healthy. Increasing your level of activity will not only help you to burn calories, but it will also reduce stress. Try integrating physical activity into your lifestyle so that you’re exercising without even knowing it – run around with your children, park further away from the door or take the stairs. You can even do body weight exercises in your own living room during commercial breaks of your favorite TV show. Just move more!

o Manage Your Portions: You can still eat the foods you love, but when preparing meals just be mindful of how much you’re piling on. If you use the plate method, 1/4 of your plate will have a serving of a starch, 1/4 will have a protein and 1/2 will have vegetables, which you can pile as high as you like (without additional fat). Remember the first bite tastes the best, so no need to eat too much.

o Join a Heart Walk: Join Team Jenny at one of the more than 300 Heart Walks across the country this year! Make the commitment to join a Heart Walk and take a stand in the fight against heart disease and help save lives. Not really sure where to begin? Take it slow! Just remember to start with a 5-minute warm-up and finish with a 5-minute cool-down every time you work out and be sure to stay hydrated. Click here to learn more about how you can join Team Jenny at a Heart Walk near you.

o Break for Breakfast: While it may seem like just a little meal you skip at the start of your daily routine, breakfast is truly the most important meal of your entire day. Not only does it help to boost your metabolism, it also keeps your blood sugar stable throughout the day. So the next time you’re moving a mile a minute, take a moment to slow down and grab a healthy bite in the morning. Your heart will thank you later!

 

Try this simple, heart healthy recipe the next time you’re making breakfast. This dish also incorporates the Volumetrics® Approach (exclusive to the Jenny Craig program), by including fresh veggies. This principle, founded by Dr. Barbara Rolls, Professor of Nutritional Sciences and the Helen A. Guthrie Chair in Nutrition at Pennsylvania State University, allows one to eat more food and feel fuller on fewer calories by choosing foods rich in water, fiber and protein and lower in fat.

Jenny Craig’s Spinach & Green Chile Omelette

spinach-green-chile-omelette

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

4 egg whites

1/2 cup nonfat milk

salt and pepper to taste

1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilies

1 cup red bell pepper, diced

1/3 cup shredded spinach leaves

2 Tbsp. fat-free sour cream

nonstick vegetable spray

 

Directions

1. Spray large skillet with nonstick spray and heat over medium heat.

2. In a large bowl, whisk egg whites, milk, salt and pepper.

3. Cook the egg mixture over medium-heat for about 3 minutes or until sides start to set.

4. Place green chilies, bell pepper and spinach leaves on one side of the egg mixture and fold in half.

5. Cook for an additional minute, or until vegetables are soft.

6. Cut omelette in half, top with sour cream and serve.

 

For more information on Jenny Craig, visit: http://www.jennycraig.com/. And, don’t forget to visit http://www.jennycraig.com/heart-walk to learn about how Jenny is supporting the American Heart Association’s My Heart. My Life. ™ initiative. Here, you will soon be able to sign up for the American Heart Association’s Heart Walks taking place in over 300 cities through 2013.

(SPONSORSHIP NOTE: I have received no compensation for this post or the included content.)

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Filed under Building a Better Me, Recipes