Monday, January 26, 2009

I watched a wonderful movie this weekend. The Visitor was written and directed by Tom McCarthy who also wrote and directed another favorite movie of mine The Station Agent. Both stories are about how and why people from different backgrounds connect. In The Visitor, Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins), a professor in Connetticut who has lost his passion for teaching and for life, ends up befriending Tarak, a Syrian and his girfriend Zainab who is from Senegal when he discovers them living in his apartment in Manhattan. The couple, victims of a real estate scam, have no place to go so Walter allows them to stay. In return, Tarek teaches him to play his African drum, the djembe. This unlikely friendship transforms Walter's life by opening up a whole new world of drummers and jazz clubs to him. When Tarek is arrested and threatened with deportation, Walter feels compelled to help him and when Tarek's mother shows up, Walter reaches out to her too. Through these new friendships, Walter is able to regain a passion for life that he thought was lost forever.

The Real Reason Obama Ran for President

Springsteen's new album Working on a Dream is being released tomorrow and every review I've read says it is as good or better than his last album Magic which I have been playing almost non-stop since it came out. It's nice to know that our wonderful new president loves Springsteen too. This is what he said at a concert before the election:

"... the reason I'm running for president is I can't be Bruce Springsteen. I can't be Billy Joel. I can't sing like John Legend and India Arie," he said. "All I have is words. In some ways words are always inadequate. You guys have just heard four of the finest musicians in the world."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Health Benefits of Tea

I'm trying to drink more tea. I would like to give up my one cup of coffee that I have in the morning and switch to tea but so far haven't been able to. I did stop drinking expensive bottled Honest Tea, except on the weekends. I now buy 2 bottles a week rather than 7. My favorite flavor is Mango Acai White Tea. I switched to tea bags and my favorite is Allegro China White Citrus. White tea is supposed to be the best health wise because the leaves have been processed the least and I like the taste of white tea better over green or the more traditional black tea.
Eat Drink Better just had an article about some of the health benefits of tea which I will sum up here:
Tea contains antioxidants which help with cell regeneration and may prevent cancer.
Tea can lower stress hormone levels.
Tea fights cavities and reduces plaque.
Tea keeps you hydrated.
Tea may reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack by preventing formation of blood clots.
Tea can help lower blood pressure.
Tea aids your body in digestion.
Tea may help prevent diabetes.
Tea can help beat bacteria.
Tea aids your immune defenses.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sweet Potato and Red Pepper Pasta

I found this recipe on Care 2

It looks delicious and nutritious. I may make it this weekend.
8 ounces whole-wheat angel hair pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups shredded, peeled sweet potato (about 1 medium)
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup diced plum tomatoes
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar or lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes or according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, place 1 tablespoon oil and garlic in a large skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is sizzling and fragrant, 2 to 5 minutes. Add sweet potato, bell pepper, tomatoes and water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bell pepper is tender-crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat; cover and keep warm.

3. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot. Add the vegetable mixture, the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, parsley, tarragon, vinegar (or lemon juice), salt and cheese; toss to combine. Add the reserved pasta water, 2 tablespoons at a time, to achieve the desired consistency.

Recipe Nutrition: 4 servings, about 1 3/4 cups each

Per serving: 402 calories; 12 g fat (3 g saturated fat, 6g mono unsaturated fat); 7 mg cholesterol; 62 g carbohydrates; 12 g protein; 9 g fiber; 546 mg sodium; 738 mg potassium

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (140% daily value), Vitamin A (120% dv), Potassium (21% dv), Iron (15% dv).

3 1/2 Carbohydrate Servings

Exchanges: 4 starch, 2 fat

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Barack Obama's letter to his daughters

Dear Malia and Sasha,

I know that you've both had a lot of fun these last two years on the campaign trail, going to picnics and parades and state fairs, eating all sorts of junk food your mother and I probably shouldn't have let you have. But I also know that it hasn't always been easy for you and Mom, and that as excited as you both are about that new puppy, it doesn't make up for all the time we've been apart. I know how much I've missed these past two years, and today I want to tell you a little more about why I decided to take our family on this journey.
When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me-about how I'd make my way in the world, become successful, and get the things I want. But then the two of you came into my world with all your curiosity and mischief and those smiles that never fail to fill my heart and light up my day. And suddenly, all my big plans for myself didn't seem so important anymore. I soon found that the greatest joy in my life was the joy I saw in yours. And I realized that my own life wouldn't count for much unless I was able to ensure that you had every opportunity for happiness and fulfillment in yours. In the end, girls, that's why I ran for President: because of what I want for you and for every child in this nation.
I want all our children to go to schools worthy of their potential-schools that challenge them, inspire them, and instill in them a sense of wonder about the world around them. I want them to have the chance to go to college-even if their parents aren't rich. And I want them to get good jobs: jobs that pay well and give them benefits like health care, jobs that let them spend time with their own kids and retire with dignity.
I want us to push the boundaries of discovery so that you'll live to see new technologies and inventions that improve our lives and make our planet cleaner and safer. And I want us to push our own human boundaries to reach beyond the divides of race and region, gender and religion that keep us from seeing the best in each other.
Sometimes we have to send our young men and women into war and other dangerous situations to protect our country-but when we do, I want to make sure that it is only for a very good reason, that we try our best to settle our differences with others peacefully, and that we do everything possible to keep our servicemen and women safe. And I want every child to understand that the blessings these brave Americans fight for are not free-that with the great privilege of being a citizen of this nation comes great responsibility.
That was the lesson your grandmother tried to teach me when I was your age, reading me the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence and telling me about the men and women who marched for equality because they believed those words put to paper two centuries ago should mean something.
She helped me understand that America is great not because it is perfect but because it can always be made better-and that the unfinished work of perfecting our union falls to each of us. It's a charge we pass on to our children, coming closer with each new generation to what we know America should be.
I hope both of you will take up that work, righting the wrongs that you see and working to give others the chances you've had. Not just because you have an obligation to give something back to this country that has given our family so much-although you do have that obligation. But because you have an obligation to yourself. Because it is only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential.
These are the things I want for you-to grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach, and to grow into compassionate, committed women who will help build that world. And I want every child to have the same chances to learn and dream and grow and thrive that you girls have. That's why I've taken our family on this great adventure.
I am so proud of both of you. I love you more than you can ever know. And I am grateful every day for your patience, poise, grace, and humor as we prepare to start our new life together in the White House.

Love, Dad

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Campbell Brown's response to Bush's Katrina remarks

"We had fun"

Yes, that what George Bush said during his exit interview. During the last 8 years our country suffered the greatest terrorist attack in it's history, New Orleans drowned during Katrina, thousand of Americans died in a war he lied to get us into, hundreds of thousand of innocent Iraqis have been killed in a war they didn't deserve, Iraq has been destroyed, the constitution has been trampled on, the world hates us, the economy is in ruins... but bush and his partners in crime had fun.
Another quote: "In the darkest moments of Iraq and every day when I was reading the reports about soldiers losing their lives, no question there was a lot of emotion, but there were times where we could be lighthearted and support each other." He was unapologetic but admitted there were a few "disappointments" like Abu Ghraib, not finding WMDs, and having the "mission accomplished" sign.
Seven more days and this evil, lying piece of garbage will be gone. If we ever recover from the last 8 years maybe the rest of us can have fun too.

Here's what I've been working on in my spare time, a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle.
For the fourth year, Chicago health commission Dr. Terry Mason is urging everyone in his city to give up meat during the month of January. On his Sunday morning radio show Doctor in the House he had this to say: "For the entire month, I'm not eating any meat. If it walks, runs, hops, flies, swims, crawls or slithers, I won't eat it. If it has eyes, I won't eat it. If it had a momma and a daddy, I won't eat it. I'm going to focus on eating a healthy and delicious variety of fresh vegetables and fresh fruit and I want you to do the same."
Last year Mason managed to stay a vegetarian for 7 months and this year he is hoping to make it a permanent change.

Friday, January 9, 2009


In case you are wondering what to eat on inauguration day, Ben and Jerry's has come up with a new flavor to celebrate our new president called YES PECAN. It's described as an inspirational blend with amber waves of buttery ice cream with roasted non-partisan pecans. If you go to a Ben and Jerry's shop during the month of January and order a scoop, the proceeds will go to the Common Cause Education Fund, a "nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process. They are committed to honest, open and accountable government, as well as encouraging citizen participation in democracy. Their Education Fund conducts research, education, and outreach activities." For more info: If you join Common Cause or donate a dollar to the education fund, Ben and Jerry's will match your one dollar donation.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


In places a lot colder than Houston, if you blow bubbles in the air, they have time to freeze before hitting the ground. Here is a link to a website with beautiful picture of these frozen bubbles: