DO IT! (Out of all the “Its” that You Can Do, Here I’m Talking About Following Your Dreams)

Friends, allow to me give a heartfelt apology for the lack of new updates. “Life intervened” sounds like an excuse, but without getting into melodramatic detail,  there has been a LOT going on – a few wacky moments, a lot of beautiful wonderful moments.


I’m having the incredible experiences (I almost want to say “luck”, but really, it has a lot less to do with luck and a lot more to do with seeking and finding) of meeting so many people in the past two weeks, folks who are working so hard to engage their passions and who are so EXCITED about the wonderful transformation of positivity in the Lehigh Valley. Everywhere I go, someone is starting a project, opening a business, and/or encouraging others to do the same. It’s an incredible time to be in the midst of everything.

Unfortunately, this blog has taken a backseat while I sift through my brain on how to organize all of the excitment. BUT – lots of great stuff is on the way. I’m finally figuring out the new video camera, I have a guest blogger coming in next week with really fresh, smart and insightful views on body image and body issues (she is amazing, I cannot wait!), and of course recipes, nutrition tips, book reviews, art stuff… and on and on.

Until then, I’ve been so inspired by aforementioned inspirational people and situations, I want to share with you some of the thoughts I’ve been focusing on as of late.

Take this for a spin:

A successful screenwriter being interviewed was asked for his secret to success. The screenwriter nodded and replied, “I find if I actually sit down to write a screenplay, I stand a better chance of selling it.”

If you are or want to be something, how often do you practice it? Be honest with yourself. Then decide if a) it’s not that important after all since you never seem to make time for it, or b) it’s super important – in which case, prioritize. If you have time to text your friends all day, check facebook obsessively, and watch 3 hours of reality TV – you can surely find a way to shift that around and, you know, make time for your dreams.

On a similar note, I recently heard a professor speak, in which he referenced a phrase commonly uttered by jazz musicians in the 1950′s:

If you make a mistake, play it again so they think you meant it.

There is no one – NO ONE – else who can dictate what your life “should” be except for you. Not a parent, spouse, coworker or boss. And because life is life, after all, you are going to mess up. Accept that fact, then get over it. Obviously, you try to make as little as possible, but all mistakes are a learning experience if you allow them to be.  Often times, these moments of regret, weakness or simply wishing for a do-over can become the most significant moments of change. It doesn’t always have to be a “mistake”. It can simply be the time where you are trying to adjust to always constant and inevitable change.

(“Make Time” print, $15 from  Daisy Janie)

IT GETS BETTER: LEHIGH VALLEY Video Submission

Take a look at what one little idea turned into:

What this project means to me:

I’m obviously an advocate for human rights. All the political aspects and statistics aside for a moment, the part of me that permanently lives in a world of rainbows and kittens and cartoon bluebirds singing in the air just plain doesn’t understand how homosexuality is still a negative issue for many people. I don’t get it. At all. There is not a single thing that anyone can say, not a SINGLE thing, that can justify to me how the love of two consenting adults is less than wonderful.

If one could try, for a moment, to consider all aspects of  life, it may shock most naysayers to realize how many queer people they know personally. What about your bank teller? The cashier at the store? The farmer that harvested your food? The person that drove the truck that brought your food to the store? The person that works in advertising and made the poster you saw for the concert you went to that ended up being the most fun you’ve had in years?

Recent political campaigns have only polarized people further – “us” versus “them”. In the midst of judging people based on their social class, their current job, who they date, what politcal party they belong to, their body type,  if they are religious or not, etc… (and all the while believing ” it’s wrong to judge people!”) we forget this one, teeny tiny fact – We all live on this same big, round ball. All of us. Every last one of us. And we’re all in this together.

When we support one another despite differences, we set an example for others. We awaken a part of people that may have forgot that within us we have enough power to shape our lives and our communities.

I want to mention that the video above came about in 3 simple steps. 1) I said “I want to make a collaboration video for It Gets Better”. 2) I called some local filmmakers to ask if they had interest, and without missing a beat they said “Yes, absolutely”. 3) I talked to Civic Theatre about giving a public space to shoot, and they likewise didn’t bat an eyelash to say “Yes, here is space for the whole day, take as long as you need.”

Done. It was literally that simple.

That’s not to say that things will always be that easy, or that you’ll always know the right people. But it does mean that taking an action – not just thinking “Wouldn’t it be cool IF…”, but taking the steps to contact people and, you know, actually do something, made this come together.

YOU have the power to do that. Yeah, I’m going to use the word “power” even if it sounds a little hokey. Because that’s truly what it is. I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for what we can make possible, if we just begin the process.

Today, think about a project YOU would like to do…then do it. If it’s starting a new hobby, reading that book you’ve had on your nightstand for months, getting friends together to watch a film or have a dinner party, or take the time to think through ways you can begin something even bigger – you owe it to yourself to do it. You will benefit, and so will everyone around you. (Isn’t that nice?)

“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems” – Ghandi

(“Truth and Love” print, $20 from MursBlanc; “Small Acts” print, $20 from the Big Harumph via Etsy)

PART 2: Mushroom Girl – “Creamy” Mushroom Sauce and Pasta

This dish is a great way to bring out the earthy flavor of mushrooms, and the creamy texture is very comforting, especially on these chilly nights! As always, this is a simple, budget-friendly recipe that will please all mushroom lovers, or maybe create new ones.

*This recipe does call for white wine, but you can omit that and just use some vegetable broth or water in it’s place.

Let me also add that I bought a box of “fancy pasta” (which was on sale for a mere dollar), and it absolutely 100% made this better! I usually always default to an inexpensive whole wheat pasta to have on hand, but trust me when I tell you – pastas are NOT created equal! A better quality pasta will take a dish from good to GREAT.

I used Rienzi Whole Wheat Orecciette – the flavor of this pasta was amazing. It actually HAD a flavor. Try it. Cook it, and try it plain. It’s incredible. The texture is also chewy without being too soft. Go get this stuff, ASAP.  (Bonus: Loosely translated, orecchiette means “little ear” in Italian… they do look like tiny ears! But vegan ears, of course.)

Pasta with “Creamy” Mushroom Sauce

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 box pasta, cooked, put aside (see above for recommendation!)
  • olive oil, enough to lightly coat pan
  • 16 oz. portabella mushrooms, sliced (2 standard 8 oz. packages)
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 large shallot
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or other creamy, nondairy milk)
  • about 8-10 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp flour

Cook the pasta and set aside. Cut the onion in half lengthwise, put flat side down, and run knife through onion to create half-moon slices. Do the same with the shallot.

In a large skillet or pan, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom, and add onion and shallots. Reduce heat to medium-low. Onions and shallots should get soft and translucent, not brown.

Add grated garlic and mushrooms.

Add white wine and turn heat back up to medium, stir and heat through.

Heat up the almond milk in a mug before adding to the pan (or else it will be really cold and cool down the pan!), and stir in. Let everything bubble and simmer.

Add bay leaves, nutritional yeast and flour. Use a whisk to stir the dry ingredients into the pan, making sure there are no lumps stuck to the mushrooms. Turn heat back down to a low simmer. Stir every few minutes, and sauce will thicken.

Add pasta to the pan and stir together, or spoon mushroom mixture over plated pasta. Salt to taste!

Play around with the flavor by adding your favorite herbs. I hope you enjoy this easy, “meaty” and “creamy” dish!

THINGS I Like THURSDAYS!

Did you ever have that friend that starts hibernating in the winter, “Oh, it’s too cold to go out and do things” – they are still your friend, they aren’t far away, you just don’t see them often. That’s what this weekly feature has been. That, and it’s been overshadowed by soup.

So, onward to neat stuff and maybe a gift idea or two!

Word BookEnds – I love words. I love reading them, writing them, inventing them and especially when they are used in visual art. Upon looking for a few necessities to spruce up the living room, I came across these bookends that combine many of my most favorite things: text, books and a positive message. All that for LESS than 30 bucks! Yes, they’re pink, but quit being such a party pooper and just paint them a color you’d like more. $29.00 for two, from PB Teen


The Little Prince Pop Up Book This whimsical French classic gets an exciting artistic makeover in the form of a gorgeous pop-up book that children and adults (adults, moreso?) will love.  That’s the book that gave such gems as this:

“People have stars, but they aren’t the same. For travelers, the stars are guides. For other people, they’re nothing but tiny lights. And for still others, for scholars, they’re problems. For my businessman, they were gold. But all those stars are silent stars. You, though, you’ll have stars like nobody else.”

The Pop Up is truly a lovely example of paper art, and inspiring literature. $35.00, bookstores.

Pennsylvania State Pillow – Sometimes, there is a perfect merge of utilitarian object and craftiness that produces a truly simple, but no less AWESOME thing. Check out this cool Pennsylvania Pillow, handmade by a lovely lady residing in California (which also has a super-cool pillow design). These would be GREAT gifts for a friend that just moved, or a couple moving into their first place. There are currently 31 states available in collection. Go look for yours, and get snuggly. PA Pillow, $52.00 by LoveCalifornia.

Silver Eyeglasses Necklace – Nerds and retro librarians rejoice!  Eyeglasses as a fashion forward jewelry. It’s almost like that thing my Gram straps to her glasses so they don’t fall off and hang around her neck, except cooler. And it will go with any outfit! You don’t even need to have poor vision to enjoy this lovely accessory. Wait, this is the best part: ONLY TWELVE DOLLARS. Twelve. Yes, you read that right. (Maybe you need glasses after all.) $12.00 from Nine x Muse

Joan Holloway Felt Finger Puppet –

Um.     You Guys.     Uhh… No, seriously.

I have no words.    I’m impressed.   I’m in love.

I’m humbly admitting that the creator of this is so much cooler than I’ll ever dream to be.

(Also, check out the Allen Ginsberg puppet, and Lloyd Dobler puppet)

$17.00 from AbbeyChristine

 

 

Remember!

Tomorrow I’ll post Part 2 of yesterdays post – a recipe that ties in with the story. Obvious Hint: It involves mushrooms!

The Mushroom Girl

Today’s post has 2 parts – Today Part 1 is the literary portion, Part 2 will be the recipe portion.

The Mushroom Girl is a short story by author Thisbe Nissen, found in a collection of short stories called Out Of The Girls Room and Into the Night. It’s about a 20-something guy who gets a slight infatuation with a girl he sees around town. He dubs her “mushroom girl” because she has a crooked, almost fungi-shaped nose. They briefly interact when she comes to his video store, he learns what we can about her based on mannerisms and what movies she likes to rent.

The underlying theme of the story is  that we do share a connection to strangers, if given the chance to build it, or rather, embrace it.

The last paragraph of the book is this:

“People leap off buildings. They jump off subway platforms, off bridges, into the Hudson River. But they don’t leap under the delusion that anyone’s going to be there to catch them. In this city, nobody’d even clean up the mess on the sidewalk.

Drew thinks he knows what Maud must feel like. It’s as if she’s walking along the street. Suddenly, from high above, someone is calling to her. Such an embarassing lack of suicidal decorum: this guy standing on a window ledge shouting “Hey you! You down there! You with the mushrooms… The blond! Yes, you with the beautifully crooked nose. You! I’m going to jump, and I want you to catch me. No one else, just you. You’re the…. one, two three… Ready or not, here I come!”

And she could just keep walking, look away, pretend she hasn’t heard, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were speaking to me. Continue on along her way through a city of strangers.

Or she can stand there on the sidewalk and open her arms.”

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PART 2:

Mushroom and White Wine Cream Sauce over Pasta (check back!)