Category Archives: General Health

Do you have an Alter Ego?

For about a month now, I’ve been on a personal journey to really get my karma in harmony, tie up some loose ends, and get a fresh perspective on things, just relax and be less uptight. I resigned from my dead end job at a staffing company and I have given myself the goal of December 31, to make definite progress in those objectives so that I can kick-start my energy level again. Since January of this year, I have just been sort of low on enthusiasm and haven’t really been as upbeat as I normally would be…you know excited & optimistic about my personal life as I would like. I just had a job interview on yesterday that seems very promising and I am excited about the opportunity. I sent my hand-written thank you note today, no delay, and my expectation is that I will to be starting work at this company soon.

The interview yesterday was my 7th interview this year, the most I have EVER gone on and not gotten an instant reply back as in, “Yes, we need you to work for our company. When can you start?” One of my more interesting job prospects this year was to work as an announcer for the local lottery drawing here in Georgia. I made it through 3 call backs, which I thought was quite impressive considering I have no tv experience, however, needless to say, I didn’t get the gig, so I am continuing on the conventional corporate path for the time being. Often times, I have to admit,I sometimes wonder, why do what I’ve always been doing? This afternoon, as I was driving to pick up my children from school, I saw a young lady walking from a very popular hair salon in my neighborhood.

She had purple hair, it was actually violet, a tiny diamond piercing in her nose and a really pretty tattoo on her upper left arm – – I think it was lotus flowers or something of that nature. I thought her hair was gorgeous – – ditto for her tattoo and her nose piercing. I had a violet colored streak in my hair in college, and I think tattoos are pretty and for whatever reason, I have often contemplated a nose piercing or a navel piercing, especially a navel piercing when I am really on my work out and feeling ultra sexy, don’t ask me why! If you saw me, however, I am totally NOT that way. I have long dark hair, that I wear parted in the middle, and it is past my shoulders; I wear it sort of full and with slight curl, and sometimes parted on the left side.

Whoopee! LOL As for my wardrobe, I mostly wear things that a corporate employee would wear. For instance, to my interview , I wore a black suit from Ann Taylor , a white blouse fitted, with french cuffs for flair , black round-toed pumps and a cute, over-sized bag. Very corporate. Very appropriate….but sometimes, I’d like to do things to shake up my routine, not be so “hum-drum”. I know the field I work in, expressing myself with violet hair and a nose piercing would not be the wisest fashion choice to make , so I do other things that express my “alter Ego”, but only I know it. That is why I sometimes have that “cheshire grin” people ask me about every now and again – – at least those that see past my exterior.

I once read that the entertainer, Beyonce, has an alter ego when she is on stage, that she has named Sasha. Sasha is her alter ego that we see when she is dancing, performing and in the zone. I am not sure that my alter ego has a name per se, however, I know the part of me that flirts at the gas station when I’m not with my children or goes to Houston’s and has a martini and sushi or even chills out in my room on my pretty fuschia leather couch with my scented candles burning , lounging just listening to my I-pod in my favorite peignor set, is not the everyday me. It’s just that I sometimes wonder…..do I want the two sides of my personality to be more in sync for all to know, or is it more alluring & mysterious of me to have those aspects of my personality under wraps for only a few to be privy to? What do you think? Is there always a part of ourselves that will be hidden to others? Share with me your thoughts.

Written by Mocha Mama

Diabetes Robbed My Friend of Her Sight and Life

On the eve of my high school reunion, I am slightly giddy with anticipation. Not because my life began and ended with high school: my 30s have been where I’ve really hit my stride.And I have remained connected with my high school friends who made an impact on me.But I am curious and genuinely looking forward to catching up with my classmates to see where the journey has taken them over time. However, my excitement is marred by the absence of one of my dearest friends since grade school.

My friend was a beautiful, smart, funny, and vivacious woman, and could light up a room. The tough environment and inner city in which she grew up was no match for her sense of humor, feist, and wit, which all got her out of trouble.? I learned so much from her. How to take chances and see the light in anything. To love Robert Smith. To make the mistakes teenagers do, and hopefully learn from. ?She witnessed all my proud teenage milestones: first cigarette, first car accident, first intoxication.

Our lives took different paths at graduation when I went away to school. Lack of college didn’t stop her from kicking ass in Corporate America, working her way up the ladder into management at a credit union. She was whip smart and a fast learner.

It’s as if she knew her time on earth was limited, being diabetic since the age of 14. Her health was always precarious and she made the most of her well days. Eventually diabetic retinopathy robbed her of sight.?I don’t like to talk about her last days, because it’s not how I want to remember her, but she lost her sight and her husband, who passed from complications of the same disease.

Many people do not take the impact of diabetes seriously…but uncontrolled it can have devastating consequences such as blindness, renal failure, amputation, and death. Some cases of diabetes, notably Type II, can be prevented and managed through diet and exercise. Traditionally, many urban areas where rates of diabetes are disproportionately higher, lack access to fresh produce and are lined with fast-food franchises.?I commend the efforts of the Obama Administration for encouraging fresh food in school cafeterias and planting an organic garden in the White House. Community gardens are springing up in urban areas and this summer, I was pleasantly surprised to see a number of produce stands outside the subways in New York. In addition to re-shaping our focus on health and nutrition in this country, we need to support the efforts of research and science to find a cure for this fatal disease.

RIP, girl. You are sorely missed.

Authentic Recipe for Nikujaga, or Japanese Beef Stew

Takeaways:

  • Nikujaga contains beef, onions, potatoes, assorted vegetables, and a soy-sauce based broth.
  • It is a home-style recipe considered “comfort food” by many Japanese people.
  • This dish appeals to the Western palate, making it an excellent starter dish in Japanese cooking.

Did You Know:

Nikujaga was adapted from an English beef stew recipe, then modified to appeal more to Japanese tastes in the late 19th century.

Japanese Home-Style Cooking

A little-publicized component of Japanese cuisine is home-style; the food commonly prepared for one’s family. The Japanese word for this kind of food is “ofukuro no aji,” literally “mother’s taste”. Or, as we would say in English: just like my mother used to make. And, as in many countries around the world, this food occupies a special place in the Japanese consciousness.

Izumi-sensei, an energetic woman who liked to call herself my “Japanese grandmother” while I was living in Japan, shared several of her family’s favorite recipes with me. The first dish we prepared together was nikujaga. It remains a favorite, especially when introducing skeptical friends to Japanese cooking. Having served this dish to even quite finicky eaters, I have never received less than positive responses. As an unpretentious middle ground between distinctively Japanese and more familiar Western fare, it enjoys almost universal appeal.

The name offers a clue to the contents. “Niku” means “meat” and “jaga” is a shortened form of “jagaimo”: aka “potatoes”. Yes, meat and potatoes! It was adapted from English beef stew recipes in the late 19th century. But, as is common with adopted practices, the expression of the dish changed to appeal more to the Japanese palate. The most noticeable difference is the somewhat sweet-salty broth containing soy sauce and sugar.

This is an excellent recipe for those who are attempting weight loss or simply want a healthy, delicious meal with reasonable calorie content. Customize the recipe by adding more vegetables and less meat and potatoes if you would like to reduce the calories further. The broth is what really pulls the dish together; the other ingredients always vary widely from family to family anyway.

Nikujaga (Japanese Beef Stew)

? lb. Beef, sliced thin and cut into bite-size pieces (ask someone at the meat counter to slice a roast as thin as possible – or just use stew meat, but the stew meat won’t soak up as much flavor.)
3 potatoes,?peeled and cut into fourths
1 onion, cut into eighths
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
? Tbsp sugar
1Tbsp soy sauce (I like Kikkoman, it’s much closer to Japanese-style soy sauce than La Choy)
1 tsp salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup peas, sliced carrots, or other colorful, bite-size vegetable

Heat the vegetable oil in a soup pot and fry the beef, onion, and potatoes until the beef is cooked thoroughly. Add the water, then the sugar, soy sauce, and salt. Bring to a boil; skim off any fat floating on the surface using a wooden spoon. Add the vegetables and simmer 20-25 minutes. Enjoy hot.

It’s a Wonderful Life – 20 Fun Facts You May Not Know

The original movie poster for the 1946 classic film “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

Takeaways:

  • “It’s A Wonderful Life” was nominated for 5 Academy Awards but failed to win.
  • The set of Bedford Falls is one of the largest in American film history with Main Street alone measuring over 300 yards.
  • The film was originally set up at another studio with Cary Grant in the lead role of George Bailey.

Did You Know?

“It’s A Wonderful Life” was a box office flop when it was released in 1946 partially due to an opening weekend snowstorm that rocked the Midwest.

Chances are that at some point this Christmas season you and your family are going to sit down and watch the perennial classic “It’s A Wonderful Life” starring James Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore. The classic film tells the story of George Bailey (Stewart), a man who works his whole life in a small town to make good only to feel that he has failed and decides to end his life. George’s guardian angel comes to George at his greatest moment of despair to show him that his life has not been wasted and is worth living.

Directed in sentimental fashion by veteran Frank Capra, “It’s A Wonderful Life” is one of the few films that seem to improve with age. There are very few people out there that don’t enjoy this beautifully told comedy/drama while most people outright love it.

Here is a list of 20 fun facts about the film that you may or may not know. When you sit down with your loved ones or curl up next to a blazing fire in the fireplace to watch this movie, you can look for some of these facts in the movie or later share them with your friends and family.

1) The film was nominated for 5 Academy Awards (Best Picture; Director; Actor; Sound Recording; Editing) but failed to win a single award. “The Best Years of Our Lives” would win the Best Picture Award.

2) When the film was released in 1946 it was a box office flop. The weekend it opened happened to be the same time as vicious snowstorms slammed the entire Midwest.

3) The film was made on a budget of $3.8 million dollars and was completely financed by Frank Capra, who set up Liberty Films with fellow directors William Wyler and George Stevens. The failure of this film resulted in the bankruptcy of the new studio.

4) This was James Stewart’s first film after finishing his service in World War II. Initially he rejected the part feeling it was too soon after coming home to return to work but was convinced to take the role by Lionel Barrymore.

5) The film was originally set up as a project for Cary Grant at another studio. When that version failed to materialize, Frank Capra stepped in and re-wrote the character of George Bailey to suit Stewart.

6) Jean Arthur was Capra’s first choice to play Mary Bailey but she rejected the script as “too sappy.” Capra then chose Donna Reed, who would make her starring debut here.

7) Vincent Price was Capra’s first choice to play Mr. Potter. There is no known reason as to why Price didn’t get the role that eventually went to Lionel Barrymore.

8) Before “It’s A Wonderful Life” snow was created using painted cornflakes. Unfortunately the flakes would make so much noise that any dialogue would have to be dubbed in later in postproduction. Capra wanted to record the sounds live so a new snow effect was created using foamite (a chemical used to fight fires), soap and water. The mixture was then pumped through a wind machine to create the falling snow. Over 6,000 gallons were used during the production. The effects department at RKO was awarded a special award by the Motion Picture Academy.

9) In the scene where Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) is leaving George’s house drunk, he walks off camera and sounds as if he stumbles over a pile of garbage cans. In reality a young crewmember had dropped some equipment at the moment Mitchell walked off camera. Both Mitchell and Stewart continued the scene with Mitchell improvising the line “I’m alright! I’m all right.” If you look closely at Stewart’s reaction you will see him laugh but he stays in character. The crewman believed he was about to be fired but Capra liked the moment so much he kept it in the film and gave the crewman a $10 bonus.

10) In the high school dance scene, the young man spurned by Mary to dance with George and eventually opens the floor to reveal the swimming pool was played by Carl Switzer, best known as “Alfalfa” in “The Little Rascals.”

11) The gym floor that opened up to reveal a swimming pool was real and located at Beverly Hills High School. The pool is still there today.

12) For the scene where George and Mary make wishes and throw rocks into the windows of the Granville house, Frank Capra had a marksman on hand to throw the rock off camera for Donna Reed. Reed insisted that because she had all brothers she could make the throw accurately herself. Capra agreed to give her one take to make the shot and, to the amazement of the crew, she made an accurate throw and hit the window she was aiming at. That shot is the one that is in the film.

13) The set of Bedford Falls took over two months to build on the RKO lot and became one of the longest sets ever created for an American movie. It covered over four acres and included over 70 buildings. Main Street alone was three blocks long and measured well over 300 yards.

14) In the scene where George prays in the bar, Stewart filmed a rehearsal that was extremely powerful and even resulted in him crying real tears. When it came time to shoot an actual take, Stewart informed Capra he didn’t think he could come close to recreating the emotions so Capra took the rehearsal and blew up the film to make it look like the camera was moving in for a close-up. The rehearsal is the scene in the final cut.

15) Actor Sheldon Leonard, who played Nick the bartender, claimed he only took the role so he could have money to buy Brooklyn Dodgers season tickets.

16) The scene where Clarence comes to George on the bridge was shot on the RKO back lot on a 90-degree day. Because of the heavy clothing required it is possible to see Stewart sweating in a few shots.

17) In the scene where police officer Bert shoots at a fleeing George, you can see the “Pottersville” lighted sign in the background. At the moment Stewart runs by its path you can see the “s” on the sign go out. This was a pure accident as the bulb simply burned out but it appears as if it has been shot out.

18) James Stewart was petrified to film the phone-kissing scene with Donna Reed, as it was his first romantic scene since returning from the war. Capra assuaged Stewart’s fears and filmed the scene in one long take. It worked so well and was so passionate that Capra had to cut several seconds out to avoid censorship problems.

19) If you turn the volume WAY up it is possible to hear two lines of dialogue after young George is shown out of his father’s office when berating Potter (“You can’t say that about my father”). When George is outside the office you can hear the following lines:

POTTER: What’s the answer?

BAILEY: Potter, you’ve just humiliated me in front of my son.

20) Director Frank Capra later sighted this film as his personal favorite. Likewise, James Stewart said that George Bailey was his favorite performance.