Thursday, June 30, 2011

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Time Travel Movies

The release of the excellent Woody Allen movie "Midnight in Paris" made me think about the Time Travel movie, where we suspend disbelief and jump into another world. Here are a list of ten memorable Time Travel flicks.

1) Back to the Future

Marty McFly, Doc Brown and a tricked out DeLorean takes Marty back to his parent's past. Seeing a young Micheal J. Fox makes me realize time is fleeting and you can't predict the future. The first is my favorite. "You are my density."

2) It's a Wonderful Life

Love this movie, at Christmastime or anywhere in between! This Frank Capra favorite transports George Bailey back in time to see how life in Bedford Falls would have turned out without his presence. "Buffalo Gals, won't you come out tonight?"

3)Field of Dreams

I think if time travel was possible, many of us would opt to go back and see a loved one who is gone. In Field of Dreams, Ray Kinsella gets a second chance to play catch with his Dad in the yard. "If you build it, they will come."

4) Austin Powers

Either you're a fan or you're not. My kids loved this movie so much, they almost wore the VHS tape out. Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery, gets transported from the swinging sixties to the greedy nineties via cyrogenic freezing. "Yeah baby!"

5) Peggy Sue Got Married

On the verge of divorce, Peggy Sue faints at her High School Reunion and wakes up in the past with a chance at a "do-over." How many of us would wish for that? Francis Coppola directs, Nicolas Cage and Kathleen Turner star in this 1986 movie that ask the question "Will she try again?"

6) Groundhog Day

Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell star in this funny, touching movie that has made the phrase "Groundhog Day" part of our current lexicon. "What would you do if everyday was the same?"

7) Sliding Doors

I really liked this Gwyenth Paltrow vehicle that shows alternate views of reality, based on a slight shift in time. A creative twist on the normal linear plot line, this movie offers an empowering message to women. "There are two sides to every story. Helen is about to live both of the same time."

8) Frequency

Another father-son reconnection movie, this time between a New York City firefighter who died years earlier and his son, a cop played by Dennis Quaid. They communicate through a radio which allows the Dad to reconnect to the son thirty years in the future. Part murder mystery, part thriller, this eery, yet touching movie asks the question "What would you do if you could change the past?"

9) 13 Going on 30

I think Jennifer Garner is charming and nowhere more so than this film where she plays a 13 year old girl who wakes up in the body of a 30 year old. Know as the girl's Big, Mark Ruffalo plays her friend Matt. "Some people feel like they were 13 yesterday. Jenna was."

10) Somewhere In Time

This is one of friend Katy's favorite movies, so I had to include it. "Unabashedly romantic", this film featuring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour at their prime, is kind of slow and sappy hence it's rating, but I kind of get the appeal. Richard is a playwright searching for inspiration, Elise, his long last love, an actress from another era. The way he travels back in time is more labor intensive and clunky than in other films, but parts of it are beautiful and touching. Shot at Mackinac Island, MI. "Is it you?" Elise to Richard. Yes, of course it is.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Upsides to the Down Economy/Love the OXO Products

Tonight was Zeke's birthday and he wanted Tandoori Shrimp so I decided to make it for him. The Indian-style dinner was rounded out with Jasmine Rice with coconut grilled corn and scallions, grilled veggies (zucchini and red pepper) and Naan bread, grilled with Raita, a yogurt based sauce with chopped cucumber, mint and cumin. The cukes needed to be peeled and seeded, so after I peeled my cuke with my handy OXO peeler, I turned to the other end of the peeler and used it to scrape out the seeds. My sister Kelley recommended the OXO and it's been great! The OXO gadgets have big fat black handles, which work good in the hands. I love the peeler and the other side can be used to scoop out eyes in a potato or seeds in a cucumber, much easier than the knife I first tried. Genius!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Recycle those Ink Cartridges

Quick blog on an easy way to save a couple bucks. I went to Office Depot this week to purchase ink cartridges for my printer. This purchase is a necessary evil, since they cost so much it pains me to buy them, but of course I need the darned ink. As she was ringing me up, the cashier mentioned if I had brought my used ink cartridges in I could have gotten $2 back. That lessons the sting a bit, plus I feel like I'm doing something good for the environment by recycling. She told me I could still get the discount, if I brought them in at a later date with my receipt. And you know what? I just may do that!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Green with Goodness

I am entering a Snapfish photo contest online. Each week is a new color for Summer. The first week was blue, this week is green, next week is yellow. What I have found when I'm driving around is I'm now thinking yellow, yellow, yellow and looking for yellow things everywhere. There are a surprising amount of construction/driving items (signs, road paint, cones) that are yellow but it has also got me thinking about other things to photograph for next week. It has also made me think about colors and the spectacular colors that abound in nature and how lucky we are to be able to see them. So far my Yellow list includes: Crotin plants, golden shower flowers, lemons, sun, tennis balls, corn on the cob and sunflowers. Just like when I write three things to be grateful for in my gratitude journal each night, when you look for yellow, you find it all over and when you look for good in every day, you will find that too.

"I see trees of green... red roses too. I see em bloom... for me and you and I think to myself...what a wonderful world." Louis Armstrong singing

"Follow the yellow brick road." Glinda as told to Dorothy

Monday, June 20, 2011

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Summer Fruit Salad

Sometimes the best food, is simple food, done right. Alice Waters, founder of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA, takes the best foods in season and serves them at their peak. I heard she once served a radish on a plate with a bit of salt as an appetizer. Fruit, at its ripest and most delicious, is one of the culinary delights in this world. I recently made a fruit salad with watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple and blueberries, adorned with a simple syrup flavored with green tea. According to the recipe I used "all a fruit salad needs to make it sing is a simple syrup." Simple syrup is simple indeed. One cup of water, 1/2 cup sugar. Combine in a saucepan. Boil until sugar is evaporated. Cool. That's it. The part where it "sings" is how you flavor it. I put green tea flavored with pomegranate and lemon rind, but you could also use orange rind, mint, a vanilla bean, Earl Grey Tea (or Jasmine), rum or another liquor. Add the amount to taste. The secret to a good fruit salad is (duh!) good fruit. I heard that if the watermelon has a yellow spot on it, it will be sweeter. Melons should be heavy, the button should give slightly and it should have a fruity aroma when it is ripe. Pineapples should also be fragrant when you slice them. As for grapes, blueberries, cherries and the like, I always try to taste one in a bag before I buy them. There is nothing more aggravating than buying a bag of fruit that is sour! I scooped out my melon with a melon baller, sliced up the pineapple, added the blueberries last (they are the most delicate), tossed them all with the simple syrup and added chopped mint leaves. I even made a watermelon basket out of the melon. A long skinny one would have been easier, but my melon was short and stout so that's the basket I ended up with. Enjoy the fruits of the summer while they're at their peak.

"Papayas should never be refrigerated."

Alice Waters

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Play, Pray and Rest

School's Out For Summer! The Headmistress at my stepdaughter's school instructs the girls on every vacation to "Play, Pray and Rest". She also suggested that it was good advice for parents and I agree.


Be a Kid Again. Watch a silly movie (or cartoon), blow bubbles, skip, jump rope, fly a kite, eat a Popsicle, walk in the grass with bare feet, watch the clouds float by, catch fireflies (let them go), sip lemonade, swing on a swing, giggle, do something just for the JOY of it.


Whatever this means to you. I read somewhere that "Thank You" is a very nice prayer and I agree. Being grateful for what you have makes life infinitely better. So whether you say a Hail Mary, Meditate or stick dollar bills in front of Buddha, connect to your higher power for an instant energy boost and guidance.


This is really hard for some people (not for me). Everyone needs to take a break from work, family, obligations now and then and just chill. Whether you do this by watching The Bachelorette, or by reading a mindless romance novel is up to you. Or you could turn off the TV, put down the book and revel in the silence that DOING NOTHING brings.

As for me, I am playing on a tennis team, bought a hula hoop to work out with and am going to watch Wayne's World, even though it looks stupid. I am going to try and meditate more, practice yoga more and write three things I am grateful for each day for my praying. As for rest, it's not really a problem for me, but I am going to try to stop worrying and thinking about things as much as I usually do, because even though my body's resting, if my mind is racing, I end up mentally exhausted.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Mango Madness

Mango Madness has hit Miami again. Mangoes go in cycles. Last year was the slow year, so this year they are going crazy! Although I don't have a mango tree, I've gotten lots of mangoes from friends. I can only eat so many mangoes a day, so I've pureed some of them and frozen the puree in an ice cube tray. One of my favorite breakfasts these days is a recreation of a smoothie I love at a local smoothie shop, called Aveena Appeal. It has oatmeal, skim milk, yogurt and protein powder and my version (with a few mango ice cubes) tastes pretty darned close to the original. There are many recipes for mangoes- from ice cream, to mango crisp, chutney and even Bar-B-Que sauce. Here's one for mango bread that is quick and easy. I made a loaf to give as a birthday gift for a party tonight.

Mango Bread

1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temp

3/4 c sugar

2 eggs, room temp

2 c. flour, all purpose

1 tsp. baking soda

2/3 c. diced mango

1 T. lime juice

1/2 c. nuts, (walnuts or pecans) toasted

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a loaf pan. Cream butter and sugar together until light. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing thouroughly. Combine dry ingredients together and beat into butter mixture. Fold in mango, juice and nuts. Put batter into greased loaf pan and bake 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes in pan, then turn onto rack to cool completely. Yummy served with cream cheese or butter.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Upsides to the Down Economy/ On Not Winning the Lottery Again

I just saw some Jehovah's Witnesses when I was out running today and this got me to thinking about seeing Micheal Jackson's mother on Oprah. Oprah asked her what she was doing when she found out her son had died. She told Oprah she was out knocking on doors and preaching, as part of her religion as a Jehovah's Witness. "You still do that?" Oprah asked in amazement. Obviously, as Micheal Jackson's mother, she didn't need to go knocking on doors, but at any rate, it's not like she was getting paid to do it. She did it because she felt compelled to do it, because it was something that gave her life meaning. And then I was thinking about an interview with Sophia Loren where she said every day she dusted, or cleaned around the house a bit, because if she didn't do that she would feel the day was wasted. Obviously, if you're Sophia Loren, you can afford to hire a housekeeper but it was something she still felt like she needed to do, that made her feel useful. So I was thinking, fame and/or fortune are not the only motivators for why we do things. It's about meaning. What would you keep doing if you won the lottery? My one thing I would keep doing is write because I love it and it keeps me sane, even if it doesn't pay the bills. Would you keep your job? Would you do something different that you're not doing now? I sometimes wonder how people with a lot of money (whether by earning it or inheriting it) stay motivated to keep working. Like, why does Bill Gates wake up in the morning? I seem to have a lot more questions than answers these days.

"I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscience of living." Anne Morrow Lindbergh