Posted in The Live Now List

Live Now List #2: Learn a New Language

Bonjour! Salut!

Welcome everyone to my blog! Language is a central part of my life. Being in an interracial, and intercultural marriage we often speak in two languages. I am used to hearing Tagalog/Filipino spoken around my ears. But for a while now my secret desire has been to learn French. Where do I begin? I could tell you about the time that I wanted to study French in school, but my parents pushed me into Spanish classes instead. (They thought it would be more important in the real world), or I could tell you about the time that I went to Europe for the summer and traveled between Spain and France. For the several weeks that I was there I was immersed in an entirely different world.

French was flowing all around me and beyond the glittering, busy lights of Paris I saw an ancient, dazzling culture just waiting for me to explore. But I didn’t. Life moved on, and so did I. Now here I am finally able to pursue this passion! Anyone who knows me knows that I love to save a dollar where I can. So I am very excited to share with you a video I found on Netflix Instant Watch: “Bonjour Les Amis!”. While it is available for purchase on Amazon if you do not have Netflix, I would encourage those who do have it to watch it.

51RZZA4PKTL._SY300_

Do not be discouraged by the 1 star review of this children’s educational video on Netflix. This video has been around for quite sometime, so perhaps other viewers were expecting the cinematics to be better. But let’s be frank: while the DVD was released in 2004, the friendly cat, Moustache, carefully shows children how to press the pause button on your VCR as you slowly learn the French language. That shows you how old this tape is! But like I said, don’t be fooled into thinking that outdated= unusable because that couldn’t be farther from the truth! What I love about this video is that with each phrase there is a slow voice that speaks to you gently, then a prompt that is color coded so you know when to speak, and then the voice repeats the phrase again. Moustache the cat playfully guides viewers through his life, where he lives, who his friends are, etc. I felt myself slowly feeling more confident in the few phrases I was learning, and I bet you would too if you gave it a try! 😉

As I move forward and continue to study and practice French I hope that I am better able to understand French culture as a whole. I want to learn about the various regions of France and the cuisine they typically serve. (I know… I’m a total foodie– I can’t help it!). I want to read about the history in France and dispel the myth of French arrogance towards other people. I want to let the language flow all around me and embrace it completely. Only when let ourselves feel, breathe, live, and experience other cultures do we truly begin to understand each other. Au revoir les Amis!  Have a wonderful night everyone! ❤

 

Advertisements
Posted in Frugal Recipes

Battle of the Celebrity Hotdogs! [RECIPE]

It was battle of the celebrity hotdogs tonight here in mi casa. For ages I have eaten countless hotdogs usually the same way: grilled, a squirt of ketchup and topped with diced onions…. hold the mustard. But nowadays hotdog making is practically an art! Take for example La Perrada de Edgar in Miami, FL. As I sat watching Anthony Bourdain’s “The Layover” show, I saw him scarf down hotdogs from this famous weiner restaurant that included: the Colombian hotdog, the Edgar Special hotdog, and the Super Edgar Special hotdog. (Seriously… you have to check out their website, folks! They take hotdogs to a whole new level).

By the end of the episode, even I, a mostly-vegetarian hippie, was jonsing for a hotdog. But my need for a good ballpark dog didn’t stop there. Oh no. Then came along Celebrity Chef David Chang. In “Mind of a Chef” David Chang takes us through many of his favorite New York spots, including secret bar, PDT. Not only is he close friends with the bar owners, but they even named a hotdog after him. This hotdog is appropriately named the “Momofuku Hotdog”. Just in case you didn’t know, Chef Chang founded the Momofuku Restaurant that eventually branched out to many more locations. This hotdog is a large, all-Beef frank wrapped in bacon that is fried and then topped with Kimchi. I wanted to lick the TV screen.

Now I am far from the Big Apple so getting my hands on an authentic Momofuku hotdog would be a bit tricky so I decided to make my own version. Coincidentally I recently just purchased the “Kimchi Chronicles” cookbook written by Celebrity Chef Jean-Georges Vongreichten and his wife, Marja. In their cookbook, they too have a Kimchi hotdog. Then it dawned on me: What if I prepare both hotdogs according to the recipes and have a hotdog face off? The Battle of the Celebrity Hotdogs was born!

For both hotdogs I used a Hebrew National 100% Beef Frank. Both Kimchi toppings came from a standard store-bought kimchi jar, but, the Kimchi Chronicles hotdog has a twist to it (from their recipe) which I will detail below.

The Momofuku Hotdog
The Momofuku Hotdog

 

For the Momofuku hotdog I began by wrapping two pieces of maple bacon around the hotdog and skewering it. Next I placed it on a broiling pan on HIGH and cooked it until it was nice and crispy. While it was broiling, I diced up some Kimchi and toasted a hoagie roll. While I could not find what (if any) spread was put onto the bun, I decided to put Mayonnaise on the bun because Chef Chang loved hotdogs with Mayonnaise. (Watch “Mind of a Chef” on Netflix to hear him rave about how much he loved mayo. on hotdogs).

For the Kimchi Chronicles hotdog I began by skewering the hotdog and broiling it on HIGH until it was cooked through. Meanwhile I prepared the Kimchi. First, dice up 1/2 cup of Kimchi. In a mixing bowl add 2 teaspoons of honey, and 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar. Slather the hotdog bun with Korean hot mustard, place the hotdog in the bun, and top with the kimchi mixture.

The Kimchi Chronicles hotdog
The Kimchi Chronicles hotdog

 

Results:

According to my better half (who tried and thoroughly enjoyed both), the Korean hot mustard is very hot, so consumers beware. However, if you have a love for all things spicy you might lean towards the Kimchi Chronicles hotdog because the honey puts a nice sweet, punch into the otherwise sour Kimchi. However, the mayonnaise was a nice smooth, contrast to the sour Kimchi on the Momofuku hotdog. When asked which one he would eat again the winner was clear:

WINNER: The Momofuku Hotdog.

Posted in The Live Now List

Live Now List #38: Meditate in a Quiet Spot

Years ago I remember taking a meditation class. As I sat in a studio with a group of other people the instructor began guiding us in a calm, soothing voice. Every now and then she would gently hit a gong and the vibrations would echo across the room. I enjoyed the deep breathing, and I loved the stillness of the room… but my mind always seemed to wander. Apparently this pretty common among people new to meditation. Building up your attention span and focus during meditation takes practice. So I put it on my Live Now List to try and meditate in a quiet spot. I wanted to really give meditation a chance.

Shell Beach 1

In my local community there are two types of weather: cool and hot. In the mornings the marine layer rolls in and all the world is clouded in fog. The stillness of the morning is draped in heavy dew and just breathing in the air feels so fresh. Everything is cold, quiet, and calm. Then as the Sun begins to peak, the fog dissipates and everything becomes so bright. The world begins to stir and everyone just craves to be outside. It’s a stark contrast.

I decided to try and experience meditation in a couple of different ways. First, I decided to just sit outside in one of my favorite spots. Being outside in the early morning hours, I felt a sense of gratitude. Breathing deeply I inhaled the cool air and gave thanks for time. Time is the most precious thing in the world. The ocean crashed against the shore and I was able to be still and really hear its power. The waters are so beautiful, and dangerous– the ocean is something to truly appreciate and respect. Being outside in the calm of the morning allowed me to center myself. I felt grounded and aware. Yes, my mind wandered a bit here and there… but I just focused on the sounds of nature to bring me back to the present.

Currently I am reading several books, one of which is the Dalai Lama’s book, “My spiritual Journey” (if you don’t have it– get it… it’s awesome). In it, His Holiness states that all people are human beings first and foremost. At our core, we all crave love. At our center, we all need love. Therefore, we should all strive to live a life of love. Love and respect all people and things. This is the basis of humanity. It was in this state of mind that I sat in meditation.

Then I came home and decided to try a guided meditation on Youtube. I decided to try a “10 Minute Guided Meditation for Positive Energy”. I figured that 10 minutes is probably my maximum limit right now for holding a steady attention span during meditation. So I began watching this video. Honestly? I really enjoyed it. The deep breathing helped me relax. The voice in the video was a bit overpowered by the music, but I didn’t really mind. I could still understand her just fine and the positive messages were nice to listen to. Overall, I think meditation is something I could incorporate more into my life and reap the benefits from. I hope you all give meditation a try and until then, have a fantastic day! ❤

 

Posted in Movie Reviews

Noah (2014): Movie Review

I love movies. As a stereotypical suburban family, my husband and I have to get creative with “couple time”. So we decided to implement movie night, almost nightly, with each other. I like the idea because we get to alternate picking out movies. In other words, I get to sit through a ton of sci-fi and action movies and he has to suffer through documentaries and romantic comedies (lol). But I thought I’d share my cinematic adventures for all of you like-minded movie-loving people. So enjoy!

MV5BNDE1MTkzNzc0MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjYxNDEyMjE@._V1_SX640_SY720_

Alright last night I watched “Noah” (2014) for the very first time. I was skeptical because on the reviews it got horrible remarks and scores– 2.5 stars to be exact. Usually I wouldn’t even bother watching, but as my better half says, “let’s judge for ourselves”, so we did. And I’m very glad we did! I really liked this movie. I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars, here’s why:

1. The cast: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, and Anthony Hopkins. C’mon… this star-studded cast really gets you “into” the movie as they portray an apocalyptic/biblical event.

2. The Plot: Now let me warn you, if you are starting this movie looking to watch a biblically accurate representation of the story of Noah… you’re going to be upset (hence all of the other remarks). But! If you go into this movie intent on watching the movie for what it is: A loose adaptation of Noah with some distorted facts, a bit of fantasy thrown in, and a splash of Hollywood effects… well then you’ll be satisfied and happy you watched it. In the beginning of the movie, I was a bit skeptical of how well the movie was going to be. But I’ll tell you, the Watchers really had me at “hello”. Taking a play from Peter Jackson’s playbook, these fallen angels (not evil) are closely resembled to the tree ents from “Lord of the Rings”. Who doesn’t love Treebeard?! I know I do. As the movie continues and the plot thickens you see, and almost feel, the struggle of Noah and his family as they follow the word of God.

3. The Effects: Hollywood goes a long way in this movie. The flood is pretty dramatic, yes, but even more so are the animals coming in pairs of two. (Cue animal roars and flocks of birds coming in droves). I was squirming as the reptiles slithered towards the ark. “Everything that flies, walks, and crawls is welcome” said Noah. And man, did they portray that well.

4. The Watchers: Angels that chose to leave Heaven and watch over Adam and Eve are punished by God and encrusted with rock and stone to hide their natural light. Fallen but not forgotten, these angels play a huge role in the turn of events. While I’m not sure how accurate-to-the-Bible they are… they are a great part of the movie.

All in all I would recommend this movie for anyone 13 years and up. It is a movie well worth watching, so don’t let other movie reviewers remarks cloud your judgment. Watch it for yourself! Have a great day everyone! ❤

Posted in Sustainable Living

Raising a Mensch Takes The “No Impact Week” Challenge!

This is probably the coolest “challenge” out there. If you haven’t heard of it, I encourage you to begin by watching the documentary, “No Impact Man” by Colin Beavan. In his experiment, he and his family (who live in the Upper East side of Manhattan) go on a one year carbon detox to try and live more simply. They begin by reducing their trash output. Slowly they shift from drinking Ice Lattes and riding the Subway to bicycling everywhere. They take advantage of their local farmers market and get involved in a food co-op program. How cool is that?! 😀 In the end, they changed their spending habits dramatically, saved money, and reduced their carbon footprint a lot.

no-impact-man

I was so inspired by this documentary I went onto the No Impact Project website to see what Colin is up to today. It turns out that he and his family are still spreading “Green Awareness” by challenging people to commit to a 1-week No Impact Week. For one week you do the following:

Sunday: Reduce Consumption… all consumption! No frivolous spending or shopping.

Monday: Reduce trash output. Recycle and reuse!

Tuesday: Change your mode of transportation (if possible) or limit your driving methods and take action in your community to walk more and drive less! This helps fight against pollution, global warming, etc.

Wednesday: Food (eat and shop local! This fights against the gas/pollution spent from trucks shipping produce over long distances.)

Thursday: Reduce Energy spending: turn off electrical gadgets, unplug unused devices, and take a walk outside.

Friday: Reduce Water Usage

Saturday: Giving Back (Get involved in a movement that helps protect your local community.)

Sunday: Eco-Sabbath (Savor the day outside and enjoy the beauty of nature.)

Are you excited about the challenge yet? I hope so, because if you register (for FREE) on the No Impact Project website you will get a guide to the challenge sent to your email that has a ton of links to show you other websites to help you achieve a sustainable lifestyle. For a while now my husband and I have been interested in sustainable living, but this challenge seems like a fun way to “get our feet wet”. I can’t wait to write all about it and share my experiences with you all! Have a happy, healthy day everyone! ❤

Posted in Frugal Recipes

Beer, Brats, and Barley Soup

Do you remember the shrimp and sausage recipe from last night? I am the type of girl where I hate to let anything go to waste. Like many of you out there so often I use part of an ingredient and then as I continue cooking other dishes those half-ingredients get pushed further and further back into my refrigerator. Well not today, folks!

I was on a mission to use up the leftover sausage. I also had leftover barley from St. Patrick’s Day in the pantry. This recipe comes to you courtesy of the Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, though I added barley to my soup. I also did not have fennel seeds or sage, so I substituted those spices for thyme, and rosemary. It worked out just fine. This simple, hearty soup consists of a beef and beer broth with salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme. Sausage is browned and combined with onions, carrots, and cabbage. As the soup boils the bitter beer taste lessens and what is left is a smooth, savory soup. I love it! while admittedly I had to pick out my sausage (because for health reasons I am unable to eat meat) I enjoyed the flavors and taste of everything else. The best part? This soup is cheap and goes a long way! We will definitely have leftovers for lunch. I hope you all enjoy this recipe and have a wonderful day! ❤

Beer, Brats, and Barley Soup!
Beer, Brats, and Barley Soup!

 

Ingredients:

12 ounces of ground pork (or leftover Italian sausage removed from its casing)

1 medium onion, chopped

 

1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed

1/2 teaspoon dried sage, crushed

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 14-ounce cans lower sodium beef broth

1 12-ounce can of light beer (I used Bud Light)

2 medium carrots, thickly sliced

2 cups shredded green cabbage

4 1/2-inch-thick slices of whole grain bread (I used a store-bought Baguette)

 

Instructions:

1. In a large saucepan cook pork, onion, fennel seeds, sage, and pepper about 10 minutes or until pork is browned and onion is tender, stirring to break up pork as it cooks. Drain off fat if necessary.

 

2. Add broth, beer, and carrots. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Add cabbage. Cook covered for about 5 more minutes or until carrots and cabbage are tender.

3. Ladle soup into bowls. Serve with a piece of warm bread. Enjoy!

Nutrition Info:

PER SERVING: 215 Cal., 4 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 59 mg chol., 579 mg sodium, 15 g carb., 4 g fiber, 24 g pro.,

Posted in Frugal Recipes

I Love the Taste of Spring [RECIPE]

I am a creature of habit. I am also a creature of comfort. My family and I live minimally. We delight in the simple things in life. A delicious meal, a warm bed, and clean clothes make up the fibers of our life. Quality, family time defines our weekends. That being said, I get an absolute adrenaline rush and a burst of pride when I cook an amazing meal for my family. Cooking is an expression of love. With Spring finally here I have been aching to bust out the grill and cook lighter, healthier, and simpler.

IMG_1016

 

I found this recipe in “Better Homes & Garden: Low-Calorie Magazine (2015)”. Browsing through the grocery store check out line I saw it, picked it up, and figured I might find a recipe or two worth cooking in it. Boy, did I ever! This recipe is called “Shrimp & Sausage Boil”. Ladies and Gents, this recipe is FANTASTIC! And I am here to share it with you so you can incorporate it into your own dinner menu. The best part of this dinner: everything is cooked in aluminum foil packets so clean up is minimal. Put it on paper plates and you have an easy, cheap, and delicious dinner! Enjoy the recipe everyone and have a fantastic day! ❤

Shrimp & Sausage Dinner! Yum!
Shrimp & Sausage Dinner! Yum!

 

Ingredients:

– 1 lemon

– 1 bunch of fresh parsley

– fresh or frozen shrimp (1-1.5 lbs. tail on and de-veined.) ** I used frozen shrimp **

– 1 package of Andouille sausage (or mild Italian sausage if you can’t find Andouille)

– frozen corn on the cob, chopped into quarter pieces

– Baking potatoes (1 per person)

– Olive oil

– Salt, pepper, and Old Bay Seasoning

 

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and prepare your baking potatoes. Clean each potato well and pat dry. Taking a fork, stab each potato several times around the tuber with the tines of the fork.

2. Place the potato on a piece of aluminum foil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, Old Bay Seasoning, and a light drizzle of olive oil. Wrap up the potato to prevent the oil from leaking and place in the oven for 60 minutes.

3. While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the shrimp and sausage. If you are using frozen shrimp, get a large mixing bowl and place the shrimp (with tail on) in the bowl. Rinse under lukewarm water and pat dry with a paper towel.

4. Heat a small bit of oil in a skillet and prepare the sausage. Slice the sausage into bite sized pieces and drop into the hot oil. Brown in the skillet and then transfer into the bowl with the raw shrimp.

5. Meanwhile, bring a small pot with water and a pinch of salt to a boil. Place corn on the cob (chopped into quarter pieces) into the water and boil for 10 min.

6. When the potatoes are finished place on a rack to cool. REDUCE the heat in your oven to 375 degrees.

7. Sprinkle salt, black pepper, and Old Bay Seasoning over the sausage and raw shrimp in the bowl and mix, mix, mix! (Use your hands and get dirty 🙂 )

8. Place Aluminum sheets down and spread equal portions of the shrimp, sausage mixture plus 1 corn on the cob in each packet. Fold the ends up to prevent leaking and place the packets directly onto the oven rack.

9. Cook for 12 minutes (No longer! Trust me on this one ❤ ).

10. Open up the packets, place on a paper plate, and garnish with parsley and lemon wedges. (Give each shrimp a small squirt of fresh lemon. The citrus taste really pulls the dish together so don’t leave it out 😀 ). Enjoy!