March 31, 2014

The Vegan World Is Not As Daunting As Some Would Believe...

For a little over a year, I have eaten primarily a plant based diet.  I would say I am about 80% vegan/vegetarian.  Other than occasionally supplementing with protein sources like chicken, salmon, and maybe the occasional slice of goat cheese, I am perfectly thrilled with the options out there for those who wish to partake.

I have written before about Angela Liddon, who has created an incredible vegan empire.  Like many of us, the Canadian cooking enthusiast began her struggle with food at an early age.  Eventually discovering that the vegan lifestyle was a far more healthy and kind way to nourish the body.

Angela recently released a cookbook that I have read cover to cover, and simply adore.  Her recipes are as beautiful as they are delicious. Even to the non-vegan!

While I would never guilt anyone to follow my lead, I would highly encourage you to at least check out her blog.  She is always posting new and clever ways to prepare food, and I have never felt deprived by the outcome.  If you like what you see, you may consider ordering her book.  It is called The Oh She Glows Cookbook and I highly recommend!

March 24, 2014

The Joy Of Paying It Forward...

There is something so rewarding about the concept of paying it forward.  Last fall I received an email from a non-profit organization that our family has supported since the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.  The overall goal of the Sandy Hook Promise is to fund a common sense solution to the ongoing issue of gun control in this country.

In an effort to bring light to their cause, the nail giant OPI created a special green polish, and named it Sandy Hook Green.  A limited number of bottles were produced, and the proceeds went directly to the foundation.  I happily purchased a bottle, and decided to pass it along to the salon where I get my pedicures.  I told them the story, and said that they could use it in any way they saw fit.

On Friday I was thrilled to learn that, for the month of March, my terrific pedicurist is offering a promotion, with plans to make a donation for every person who paints their nails with Sandy Hook Green.

So, OPI paid it forward by producing the limited edition.  I paid it forward by buying it and giving it away. And the generous spirit of Nikki at the Girl Friday Salon is paying it forward by making a donation and educating those, who may not have otherwise known about the continued efforts of Sandy Hook. My hope is that those who participate in Nikki's special offer will continue the chain of paying it forward in their own way.

I love this stuff...

March 16, 2014

The Harsh Reality Of Paycheck To Paycheck ...

Last month I wrote a piece on the recent release of The Shriver Report.  For those who missed it, Maria Shriver and her team composed a collection of data and stories that provide a real perspective of the millions of American women and children, who are falling desperately near or below the poverty line.

In an effort to bring the written word to life, a new HBO documentary titled Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert, gives the viewer a harsh but accurate understanding of the everyday existence of millions of women and children.  And we're not just talking about a few million. We are taking about 42 million women and 28 million children, who are struggling every single day to make it to the next.

On Monday March 17th,,, and YouTube will stream the documentary free of charge.  You will be able to take advantage of this offer until March 24th.

I have posted the trailer, which will give you a flavor of this tough but very real subject.  Honestly, my hat is off to Maria Shriver, who is the Executive Producer of this film.  She serves up a painful reminder that we as a country cannot continue to allow this widening sector of society to remain unheard and ignored.

March 10, 2014

And Then There Was One...

Last week I wrote a blog about a couple of terrific students from Kansas City, Missouri.  They managed to exhaust the list spelling words at their county spelling bee that would ultimately determine which competitor would advance to the national stage.  After nearly six hours, the officials had no other choice but to call it a day, announcing that a runoff would take place at a later date to crown a winner.

I was especially encouraged as I followed what happened next.  Naturally,  the local and national media swarmed to report on the feel-good story of the week. But it was the collective response of the two participants, their families, friends, as well as the administrators from each of the schools that I found interesting to observe.  In a time when we are inundated with reality shows, social media, and wannabe super stars on YouTube, the folks in Kansas City spent the better part of two weeks showing respect to one another and focused only on the task at hand. In fact, one of the contestants told a reporter that it would be the final word, and not the opponent, that would ultimately beat one of them in the end.

Saturday March 8th a winner was eventually crowned after 20 rounds.  Honestly, they are both winners in this writer's book.  It never gets old when friendly competition is just that.  And there is no question that this behavior was modeled by the parents, the school, and the teachers.

Congratulations on giving America a fine example, Kansas City!

March 3, 2014

Send Them Both...

You may have heard about a couple of special kiddos, who recently exhausted the list of spelling words that would ultimately determine the winner of the Jackson County Spelling Bee. The Kansas City, Missouri (side note: If you haven't visited Kansas City, it's an underrated and totally awesome city) tweens battled it out over the course of several hours, still remaining supportive and respectful of each other's continued success.

So, here's how it went down. Sophia Hoffman, a fifth-grader at Highland Park Elementary, and Kush Sharma, a seventh-grader at Frontier School of Innovation, started the day with 23 other bright spellers. Although, as the day progressed, the two managed to ascend to the top of the pack by conquering every last word on the list, easily blowing through 47 rounds of spelling excellence. In an effort to crown a winner, those conducting the spelling bee nabbed 20 additional words from the dictionary, where the cerebral duo easily devoured the challenge. Ultimately, the beefficials (a made up word, which I acknowledge is risky in a spelling related blog) called it a day, claiming that they would have to regroup at a later date.

Well, you can imagine what happened when the media took hold of this feel-good story.  Local and national reporters and talk show hosts plunged their teeth into the charming tale of adolescent mastery.  That's how I first learned of Sophia and Kush. The team from Good Morning America told the story, followed by collectively chanting "send them both" to the powers that be at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Turns out, the beefficials seem to be holding firm with the one and done rule (another fictitious bee term), refusing to allow the tie, which would translate to both competitors attending the coveted national stage.

As the public learned of this uplifting story, the matter quickly found its way to the familiar world of social media.  A hashtag was developed and the rest is history.  A virtual outcry to #sendthemboth from Americans near and far.

A subsequent contest has been scheduled for March 8th to make a second attempt at establishing a winner.  Although, this writer agrees with the good folks at GMA. I say SEND THEM BOTH.  Standing with me is my Labradoodle, Vivian, who has proudly emerged as the canine representative to influence the beefficials to send them both to Washington DC to compete against this country's most gifted spellers.

If you agree that both of these hardworking students should have the privilege of attending the national spelling bee, Tweet your support to #sendthemboth.