Tuesday, March 12, 2013


I cry a pretty healthy amount. Okay, I cry a lot. And no, not because I am a crybaby. Well, at least I don't think I'm the annoying sniveling kind. Real crybabies love the attention their crying brings, whereas almost 100% of the time I try to hide my crying, even amongst my own family, as it makes me wildly uncomfortable. Honestly, a sincere amount of somethings and nothings can move me to tears, as my soul is somewhat like an active volcano; something's always cooking down there, waiting to rise up and start firing in every direction.
I cry at certain dog commercials, or the kind where old people profess their love to one another, I cry over mountains and almost every time I have to leave the U.P., I cry over poetry, or particularly gruesome workouts that somehow shred me to my soul (thanks Bob Harper and EJ Dockery) and recently I cried over this quote:

"Believe with all your heart that you will do what you were made to do."
--Orison Swett Marden

I cannot tell you how many versions of these same words I have heard over the years, and I want to say that most times it has affected me in much the same way, but maybe it's because I really feel on the cusp of some sort of life change leading me in the direction that I deeply yearn to go that this was a beautiful sign, a reassurance that I am not crazy in truly believing I am destined for the sort of epic adventures and artistic grandeur that I long for on a never-ending, non-stop loop.

I watched this show about a week ago called Frozen Planet, about wolves hunting Bison, killer whales hunting seals, sea lions hunting penguins, and while each time I felt real torn up inside over the poor animal being ran down or massacred, I was more struck by the images of the Arctic and Antarctic and wondering about the people who were filming this and how they got that job? Then I got to thinking about National Geographic, the Discovery Channel and the Travel Channel and all those jobs. And how freaking bad I want to be those people.

I really don't know how many other ways there are to say that I want to see the whole world, other than saying I want to see the whole world! Except Ohio, I can live without Ohio, and as far as I'm concerned have seen all I'll ever need to see of Ohio. Okay, I will admit I have spotted a few, an admitted few nice barns or something in Ohio whilst driving through on my way somewhere better, but being from Michigan, the greatest state without a doubt, I cannot possibly pledge any allegiance to Ohio on sheer principle alone.
But I digress, per usual.

Besides crying over that quote, I just minutes ago finished a book my mom sent me called the War of Art, by Steven Pressfield and sobbed pretty much incessantly during the final few pages. Big globs of mascara wreaked havoc down my cheeks as his profound words set up camp and settled in for a nice long winter inside my mind, alerting me to an undeniable truth: I was born to be a writer, a curator of beautiful words, and if at all possible, wisdom. That is what I was put on this earth to do, yet I have been living in a state of ignorance. Not that I have doubted this truth, but I have doubted myself and that has been enough to de-rail me time and time again.

Spoiler, this is the last page of the book, that I read three times in a row and burst into new tears, each consecutive time. It won't ruin the book for you, on the contrary I think you will find you might want to read it more.

The Artist's Life

Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action.
Do it or don’t do it.
It may help to think of it this way. If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.
You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God.
Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.

Fucking beautiful. And yes, some things, in my humble opinion deserve a solid F-bomb for good measure, just like some things deserve to be cried over. I personally will continue to use the F word on occasion for punch (though I am consciously trying to be more of a lady and limit its use) and I will continue to cry when my soul is moved, which is somewhere around every other day.

Oh and do yourself a favor and read this book. Life. Changing.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

It's Baking Time!

So, I have yet to do this in a blog, not because I haven't wanted to, but because, well, I simply haven't. But no more! It's time for a fun food blog! And for those of you expecting some rigid broccoli dish because I was on the Biggest Loser, wrong-o! For starters I do my very best to eat healthy and still retain a lot of the good food ideas I learned from my time at the ranch, but I have always liked to expand my knowledge in the realm of food and health and continue to do so, regardless of one set of rules on how to eat. Furthermore, I love to bake and that can be very difficult for me as I love to then eat my bakery. And well bakery is definitely no apple with a side of tofu. It's delicious sugary goodness. But according to this new book I read, it's not all bad:

You can follow some pretty basic rules about food and do quite well for yourself. The author even referenced the French (I do so want to be more like the French in this way!) and how they eat pastries, drink wine, have some of the most decadent meals around, yet are slimmer, healthier, and live longer than most Americans. Read the book or study the French like I have been to find out why. They're quite riveting.

I tried out this rule this week:

And while, if you know me I adore baking so I can't take it on fully, as the author suggests most people wouldn't want to bake very often, so it's okay when you do, but I myself find it incredibly therapeutic and fulfilling, so I could bake daily. But that didn't stop me from wanting to try a scrumptious new something and decidedly not feel bad about it, or that I can only ever nosh on fruit for dessert. Bologna! The point the author makes in this book is that desserts are meant to be had and enjoyed, people! If you aren't bogging down your body with a whole slew of unneeded preservatives and unrecognizables (like in some store-bought, boxed, cream-filled bon bon) and if you have it in moderation of course. So here is my yummy little treat, including my few fun tips for making you feel even less guilty about having it.

First off I wanted to try and make shortbread cookies, which I have never attempted before. I have grown rather fond of them as an adult, though I never was as a child, because duh, where the heck is the chocolate? Well, I remedied that fact here.

First I found this recipe on the foodnetwork:

IN 6 INGREDIENTS (I love simple, though I can appreciate hard, that's what she said, no time!)


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into chunks
1 teaspoon water


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

I mixed the butter, vanilla and water first, then added the dry ingredients. It called for a food proccessor. Blah, I did it by hand. You don't need that fancy pants gadget. Then place the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a log, about 2 1/2 inches in diameter and 5 inches long. Tightly twist each end of the wrap in opposite directions. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Slice the log into 1/3-inch thick disks. Arrange on nonstick cookie sheet. Bake until the edges are just light brown, about 12 minutes, you may need to rotate the pan halfway through.

--You can store the dough in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze uncooked log for up to a month.

First tip- Make less!
I made a half batch which filled up one cookie sheet perfectly, so I was not bombarded with zillions of tempting cookies.

Second tip- Share!
I shared with my boyfriend, obviously, and also gave away a baggie of cookies to the cable repair man today. Sharing helps limit your calories and guilt. And it makes you feel like a lovely lady. Or man, there can be man baker/sharers.

Third tip- Just let yourself enjoy the stinkin cookie!
The plain shortbread cookie just wasn't cutting it and I wanted a little more pizzazz. So I made my own chocolate topping, the don't feel bad version too, so that... I didn't feel bad!

Chocolate topping:

2 squares Godiva 85% extra dark chocolate
1 packet Truvia
2 TBSP (ish) of Unsweetened Almond Milk

Microwave for about a minute while stirring occasionally. Top cookies, or dip halfway. Results:

Pure un-guilty Frenchy decadence.

And look there are only three cookies left and I am saving them for DC. Not too shab.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Music Monday: Jason Masi


I am very pleased to announce I have brought you another very talented musician that I happened upon here in Virginia. As you should well know, I crave good music like I crave chocolate and that is to say I would gladly have it injected into my veins. So without further ado, let's get on with today's artist: Jason Masi.

A bit of background first, I do love to set the stage: I was having a glass of wine one Friday evening with my boyfriend at this simply posh winery--The Winery at Bull Run if anyone's interested, I highly recommend it and not just because it houses barrels of wine--that I discovered nearby and we specifically were in attendance because I had gotten wind of live music every Friday. We walked in to see Jason Masi already strumming on his guitar, smiling and crooning. When he walked over to our table a little later to ask us if there was anything he could play because we looked like people who appreciated music, I knew I liked him. When he did the best cover of Cecilia by Simon and Garfunkel that I have heard to date, I liked him even more. And when he played some wonderfully soul-stirring originals, I knew I had to interview him.

For Jason, music started as a hobby in middle school. His older brother played in several bands, while his time was occupied with sports. By high school, he had become considerably more interested in music, starting to play in garage bands and getting obsessed with it, he said. He called himself a little bit of a late bloomer in music, while still focusing on sports on the side, but by college his obsession reached its peak. Jason focused on writing music, playing the guitar and got a group together called Jubeus, a band he played with for six years. Currently he is a solo singer/songwriter, and that's where I happened upon him.

Here are some of the questions I had for Jason

AD: Do you play any other instruments besides guitar?
JM: I think a lot of singer songwriters have another instrument that they fiddle with. It's good to challenge your brain with a different instrument. I write a little on keys and on guitar.

AD: How do you come up with your songs?
JM: I’m kind of ADD when it comes to listening to music, and I’m like that with my writing too... I try to write as much as possible, some comes out in a couple minutes, or weeks, or months at a time. The way I come up with writing stuff is sitting down with my instrument. It's kind of a primitive process; it's really just making noise, then I do the same thing with my voice, then I try to make sense of it, kind of like a puzzle, and if I’m lucky it kind of falls into place. When you do it hundreds of times that process becomes less painstaking, then when you get to the end, part of the reward is having something you can show to people. Everybody has a focus they keep coming back to, they come back to what they’re all about. What I write about it is keeping it simple, balancing your life, your passion and your needs.

We don’t necessarily need to have a lot of things, sometimes we just have enough and that’s okay.

I think that’s how art should be, it can take all of the elements of what you listen to and create something that’s kind of cohesive; that’s what’s really impressive.

AD: What artists inspire you?
JM: Most recently I’ve been inspired by older soulful musicians: the Wizards, Marvin Gaye, Van Morrison, a lot of eclectic artists, Paul Simon, Sam Cooke, Will Hoge, Bob Schneider, Ben Harper, those types of artists I kind of aspire to be, they aren’t restricted by some major label telling them what they need to create.

AD: What are some of your favorite songs, either you've written or you love to perform?
JM: Balance & Pull, Life is Wonderful, The Power of a Woman... I have some go-to songs, that I just love, like, Golden Sun; it’s a very sexy song, but I cant play it everywhere for obvious reasons, but I’m a lover I’m not gonna hold that back. My songs are like my children, you’re supposed to love them all the same, but you love them all for different reasons.

AD: What do you hope to accomplish with your music?
JM: I’m really happy to be able to play music as a full time artist, that’s an accomplishment in itself. I would like to maybe write songs for TV shows and movies, get the music out to a greater, wider audience. I’ve got many, many records in the making, I look forward to growing and getting inspired by other music that comes out. It also kind of measures different periods in my life, during those years that I wrote those songs. At the end, if I look back on my life, whether its tomorrow or at 105, I am proud having these records that map out what I’ve done and accomplished; creating measures of where I’ve been in my life is very rewarding. I've dedicated myself to music for better or for worse. It's all about the music and being able to create something.

AD: Let's talk adventure, (duh!) What has been your biggest adventure to date?
JM: My biggest adventure to date... I was in Costa Rica with my wife, my biggest jump into an adventure. I was camping through Costa Rica and our tour guide suggested zip lining. I’m not super scared of heights, but I am kind of a wimp. I’ve never experienced being upside down like that on a rope, I felt like I was going to fall out of my harness, but I thought to myself, I’m having a really good time, being flipped upside down and flying through the jungle... When you’re scared of something and you just jump and go ahead and do it... that's really liberating.

AD: And of course, one of my favorite questions to ask artists I admire: What advice do you have for those pursuing the arts?
JM: Learn about the business you’re getting into and try to find where you fit in. A lot of kids growing up want to be an artist and only look at one aspect of it, but there might be a lot of other avenues to thrive in or fit their personality better. You need to look for your meaning and figure out what it is you want to do. Don’t restrict your dreams to one aspect of artistic vision, keep an open mind about what your skills and talents are to fill the gaps in the artistic world.

Well that about wraps it, folks. Do yourself a solid and check out Jason on iTunes, Facebook: www.facebook.com/jasonmasimusic, his website www.jasonmasi.com, pandora: http://www.pandora.com/jason-masi. I don't care where, just check him out.

My recommendations:
Ease your worried mind
Windy Road

And honestly, Jason was such a fun guy to interview and had amazing insight! So Jason, thank you! It was an absolute pleasure getting a larger glimpse into your art and I look forward to seeing you perform again!