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Showing posts from June, 2013

Culture Crush: San Diego's Balboa Park

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By Lisa

A true gem, Balboa Park is the cultural hub of San Diego. At 1200 acres, it is the United States' largest urban cultural park and home to not only the world-famous San Diego Zoo, but many gardens, performing arts venues, 15 museums, amazing food, music, a great public golf course and more.

The Prado Restaurant is perfect for a relaxing lunch or dinner. While the large patio and stellar service add to the allure, the food and drink are absolutely top-notch. Nothing beats a summer afternoon on the beautiful patio, unless it's a festive summer evening meal under the twinkling lights.

On a weekend, the park is pleasantly full of tourists and locals strolling about, enjoying the Botanical Gardens, the Fleet Science Center, the United Nations Building and International Cottages, the Timken Museum of Art or the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Perhaps a busking violinist or guitarist catches the eye and ear. The tranquility of the Japanese Friendship Garden, the cool shade of the m…

Every day is Monday... by Christine

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Every day is Monday… and I have been packing up salads in a jar with a side of chicken for lunch. What a success it’s been for losing weight. I haven’t been able to make excuses about not having time to pack a lunch.  These lunches have been delicious, filling and nutritious. I have been pleasantly surprised at how I have wanted my salads over the temptation of dining out. These time-saving lunches have given me a little more time in the morning. With all of these healthy lunches I have been focusing on homemade dinners. It’s so challenging on a long work day in the summer heat to want to come home and make a dinner. I struggle with the ease of going to a drive-thru or running into a sub shop and just pointing to the trays of toppings while someone else does the work. I have been trying to come up with ideas, and sometimes life works in mysterious ways. I was watching my daughter’s tumbling class as I sat near a mother and daughter also trying to pass the time. They had a pen and not…

4th of July Fruit-Tart Flag

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Directions Fill premade miniature tart shells or phyllo cups with sweet mascarpone cream (recipe below), then arrange on a tray and top with blueberries and halved strawberry slices to create stars and stripes.
Mascarpone Cream:
Beat an 8-ounce container of mascarpone cheese and 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar with a mixer until smooth. Gently fold in 1/2 cup freshly whipped cream.
Photographs by Tara Donne
Food Network - Fruit-Tart Flag Courtesy of Food Network Magazine

Life Is Full Of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 10

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A Day To Celebrate!

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When a birthday comes around each year, I'm thrilled. I look forward to celebrating my birthday and the birthdays of family members and friends. I love the feeling I get from making others feel special on their special day. As a young girl, we never celebrated birthdays, and I don't ever remember wishing my parents or older sister a happy birthday. It wasn't until my younger siblings were born and I was 15 when I saw a birthday party with cake, food and goodies for all the kids. I didn't miss it or feel left out, but as I got older, I realized that I wanted to celebrate my birthday in a special way every year. Forget the fact that I was a year older, I wanted to celebrate and be celebrated by others.
When my children were born, the birthday parties never stopped. We were fortunate to have a playgroup of about 20 kids, so we had a birthday party and invited those friends. We would have a family birthday party on another day, and then I would cook and bake on the kids’ ac…

Happily ever after does exist…

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As a young girl, I imagined my life playing out as a story in a fairy tale book. The girl finds her prince and lives happily ever after. When I found my prince, life was amazing. That is, until the honeymoon was over, and we had to face the real issues, joining our bank accounts, paying for a mortgage, planning for children, where to live after we had the children and so on. I was 24 when I got married, so my sense of self was not fully there. I gave birth to my first child after being married 2 years, then 2 years after that, my second child arrived. I didn’t fully know who I was when I got married and my journey to find out was put on hold while I raised two small children.
Happily ever after was missing within me, not my marriage. I didn’t know I was missing out on knowing myself until I reached a time in my life when my kids started attending elementary school and I felt blue all the time. Where had the bliss of being married and creating a great family gone? It wasn’t depression…

Culture Crush Throwback Thursday: Ulysses by James Joyce

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Culture Crush gets in on the Throwback Thursday fun and shares an oldie and a goodie from the past. This week's highlight, in celebration of Bloomsday, June 16, is Ulysses by James Joyce.

By Lisa

Yes, Ulysses can be a daunting read, but all one really needs do is accept the stream of consciousness and join in the wanderings of the physical, mental and spiritual. The inherent celebration of life in Leopold Bloom's journey through one day (June 16, 1904) in Dublin is undeniable. Oh, a strong vocabulary or handy dictionary, while not necessary, will make the experience more powerful.

One favorite passage from Episode 17 (Ithaca):

"What spectacle confronted them when they, first the host, then the guest, emerged silently, doubly dark, from obscurity by a passage from the rere of the house into the penumbra of the garden?
The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit."
The Gabler Edition of Ulysses has been the most recent attempt at a cohesive, accurate telling …

Life is Full of Pleasures: Cyndi's 10

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Foods to make your Belly Flat...

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Say what?  
I took this Dr. Oz Quiz and failed it!  So...let me save you some time and give you the correct answers to this quiz, so you can be aware of what foods help your belly get flatter!
Check it out!  
This breakfast food contains "good" bacteria that helps with stomach bloat: Probiotic yogurt contains bacteria that helps regulate the bacteria in your stomach, keeping you regular and combating belly fat

This canned food contains mono-unsaturated fats that help to lower cholesterol: Olives, a staple in the Mediterranean diet, also help control insulin and blood sugar, which are key to keeping a flat belly.

Which anthocyanin-rich fruit can help reduce belly fat? Eating strawberries can help reduce belly fat, and can also reduce insulin spikes that may cause weight gain.

Studies show that this treat is packed with tummy-flattening flavonoids: Dark chocolate that contains 70% coco or higher is filled with flavonoids and monounsaturated fats that increase fat burning and flatten you…

Culture Crush Book Review: Dead Ever After By Charlaine Harris

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Hardcover published May 7, 2013 (Penguin)
Reviewed by Lisa


As True Blood began it’s sixth season yesterday, the Sookie Stackhouse novels AKA the Southern Vampire Mysteries drew to a close with the publication of the last novel of the series in May. Dead Ever After, a final-sounding sort of title, is the thirteenth book of Sookie’s adventures ever since Bill Compton walked into Merlotte’s, all those years ago.

There have been a certain amount of complaints, even outrage, at the series’ final installment. Really, though, what can the reader expect? Ms. Harris has always written Sookie as an independent, strong woman, and that is what Sookie remains. Many of the characters from past adventures make an appearance in Dead Ever After, a bit of a tried and true device, but it still works.
The HBO series veered off from the story line in Season 2 and didn’t look back while Ms. Harris has continued to churn out Sookie’s adventures in Bon Temps and beyond for the past several years. Overall, the S…

Life Is Full Of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 10

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Crisp Chicken Wings with Chili-Lime Butter

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Bestie Note: A Father's Day Treat!!  This delicious Chicken Wings recipe is sure to make Dads' taste buds happy!!  
Crisp Chicken Wings with Chili-Lime Butter Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence
Ingredients 4 pounds chicken wings Extra-virgin olive oil Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened 1 big, fat rounded tablespoon Thai red curry paste 1/4 cup honey 1/4 cup soy sauce 1 lime, halved Chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish Directions Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Rinse the wings under cool water and pat dry. Put them in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Toss to coat with the seasoning. Then spread the wings out on a baking sheet and roast about 25 minutes until the skin gets crisp and brown, and the meat is tender.
While you wait, throw the butter, red curry paste honey and soy sauce into a blender. Season with salt and puree. Scrape into a big bowl. When the wings come out of the oven put add to the bow…

Rebuilding a friendship…

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Through my adult years, there have been plenty of friendships that have been irreparably broken!  There have been many arguments with different friends that are too hard to recover from. Disagreements, fights or betrayal are the most difficult obstacles in my friendships, especially because I’m very sensitive from family betrayals that have me on guard.
Finding the trust in girlfriends again after I have felt slighted or betrayed is so hard. I don't know if many of us grew up seeing how to handle conflict between the women around us, but I certainly didn't. As a child, if any of the women in my life had a fight with a family member, they were banished until the other party was the better person and reached out. There’s no doubt that relationships among women are hard to work through and keep healthy.
My ego and lack of tools to recover from disagreements is very disheartening. I find that friends who I've lost through the years also lacked tools or the willingness to try to…

Culture Crush Game of Thrones #30: Your Weekly Ass Kicking

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Each week, we'll discuss the latest hard knocks in Game of Thrones, who kicked ass and who got theirs kicked, all wrapped up in a neat little recap. We'll clarify some kinks in the story, too. This is your Spoiler Alert warning, so read on with caution. 


By Lisa
Episode #30: Mhysa (air date 6/8/13)
Wow. This third season of Game of Thrones kicked all our butts and sorted out some of the clashing kings of Westeros. In the power vacuum created by the death of Robert Baratheon (called "Usuper" by Daenerys), who won his own crown through regicide and power plays, we started with Renly Baratheon, Tywin Lannister (via Joffrey Baratheon), Robb Stark, Stannis Baratheon and Balon Greyjoy. Added to the War of the Five Kings are all the other major and minor players.
In the Season 3 final episode, the Onion Knight, Ser Davos Seaworth stands up for the right and defies his King and the Red Witch, even under punishment of death. Davos’ bravery and confidence gets him the Ass Kicke…

Amanda Palmer: The Art of Asking (TED talk)

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Such a powerful video - we hope you take a few minutes to watch.


Every day is Monday... by Christine

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Every day is Monday… and I have been looking for new ideas for packing lunches. I am pretty diligent about bringing my lunch to work each day. Trying to keep the ideas new and exciting can be a challenge. An easy and economical option is to look for frozen meals on sale at the local supermarket. You can stock up, save money and they are quick to grab in the morning to heat and eat at lunch. The biggest complaint I hear from people is their size. Usually, if lunch is your main meal, it’s just not filling enough. I have always added vegetables with a frozen meal. If you buy the fettuccine, you can add frozen broccoli and almost double the size of your lunch. Trader Joe’s sells a frozen asparagus you can easily heat up to go alongside any of the chicken dishes. Another great tip is to never eat out of the plastic container. When you put these meals on a plate alongside a colorful vegetable your meal comes to life. You may even hear a coworker comment about how good your lunch looks. I a…