Monday, September 7, 2009

A President's Job is to Lead & Inspire

I think that is exactly what President Obama is doing with his address to children tomorrow.

Some find it controversial that he would tell the children "We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country." But you know what? I find it inspiring. Inspiring that someone in that high an office would take time out of his day to talk to the youngsters of American about how he didn't have it that easy, but look where he is today:

"I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse. But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country."

It's important not just for the children of this nation to hear these words from a President, but it's also important for us as adults, because learning never stops and the opportunities never end. It's extremely inspiring for me, an adult student, to hear the President of the United States tell us how things weren't always easy. We all make mistakes, but we're given second and third and fourth chances to make things right. Whether that be our education or in our personal life.

So the critics can complain and the naysayers will nay say, but I say this President is doing exactly what I hired him for. He is a role model for the entire nation, no matter what your political views. It's never too late to follow your dreams.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A tragedy for the Richmond SPCA

I received an email today from the SPCA in Richmond, VA - my hometown. I have always supported the RSPCA because they do wonderful work. Robin Starr was able to revitalize the animal rights groups in Richmond and create a new space for the SPCA, a no-kill shelter, a place where pets are adopted out, receive medical treatment and pet parents are educated.

This year United Animal Nations, a national animal advocacy group started a campaign to inform the public about the dangers of keeping a dog in a car even for a few moments in the warm months (or even in spring or fall). A car is a death trap to a pet, even with the windows cracked. Try it yourself on a 70 degree day. See how long you last as the greenhouse effect starts and the car rises to 100 degrees in just a few minutes. Crack the window and see if it makes a difference. It doesn't.

From the UAN press release:

A Stanford University test found that when it is 72 degrees outside, a car’s internal temperature can rocket to 116 degrees within an hour, even with windows cracked. When it is 85 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car can soar to 102 degrees in 10 minutes and 120 degrees in 30 minutes. A dog can only withstand a high body temperature for a short time before suffering nerve damage, heart problems, liver damage, brain damage or even death.

So when Robin Starr and her husband miscommunicated last week and accidentally left their 16 year old dog in the back of Robin's car for 4 hours, his fate was unfortunately written in stone. He died later that night of kidney failure even after the Starr family tried every possible medical option at a local emergency vet in Carytown.

I know that clinic. They have great facilities and they care about their patients. I know the SPCA in Richmond, they do fantastic work for animals in and around the community. Their facilities are excellent and everyone there, Robin included, work for the betterment of the lives of our companion animals.

So the fact that the CEO of the Richmond SPCA accidentally killed her dog is an even greater tragedy than if it happened to J.Q. Public. It's a greater tragedy because she should have known better and I have no doubt that she cared greatly about Louie.

If it were me I would step down. Not because the critics call for it but because I failed. It's difficult enough to protect animals that are not our own but it is our obligation to protect those under our care. There are other avenues that Robin Starr can take to help the animals in Richmond. She doesn't need the title of CEO to make a real difference. All she had to do was check the back of her car every morning to make a difference to Louie.

I don't say this to be hurtful but if we can't protect those who are closest to us, how are we to protect the rest?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cheesecake Dreams

Girl's night yesterday with my girlfriends who I adore. Saw a movie, ate dinner and drank too much wine. Doesn't happen often because B & I are out of town most weekends.

Discussions last night got me thinking today. It seems to always turn to the same thing. B & I will one day have children and B will have to give up the band and his crazy lifestyle to become yet another sheep in the neverending pasture of people who give up their dreams for conformity.

These are their ideas, not mine. I continue to state and re-state that no, we'll find a different way of doing it. B's been with the band for going on a decade now (I think) and I can't imagine him not doing music in some shape. I want him to stay in music and do what he loves. Even if we have kids and embrace the American "dream" and all of that.

Even if we don't.

They poopoo my ideas. "You can't raise a child alone. He can't be gone every weekend. "

I call us selfish. We are in our 30's with no kids. A dog, yes, but even Mozart would admit he's not an infant. Perhaps we are selfish. Maybe we should grow up and stop staying out all hours of the night and sleeping until 3 in the afternoon. Maybe eating cheesecake straight out of the box isn't such a good idea. But what if it was my lifelong dream to eat cheesecake straight out of the box? Is it so hurtful that my love would tell me to stop? Force me to give up some semblance of happiness for the greater good? Or what we're told is the greater good. Who says we can't eat cheesecake straight out of the box or stay up until 4 in the morning?

Who makes these rules?

My bigger question is when do we give up our dreams? And why? Because someone tells us to or because we get tired of chasing them? How can you love someone and at the same time tell them to give up what makes them happy?

I can't imagine what I'd do if B told me I couldn't finish my graduate degree because we need to start our family. Yes I tell him to take the trash out every night and yes we're gone too much and our apartment looks like a pigsty because of it. But it's our pigsty. And our trash.

And our cheesecake - that we're going to continue to eat straight out of the box.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The new Peapod Green Car is released - But is it practical?

So once again, American car companies are behind the 8 ball?

Chrysler, LLC released their eco-friendly Peapod - (an all electric vehicle) for city dwellers today. It's restricted to 25 miles per hour in most states - It's basically a moped with two side by side seats and Iphone plugs. It's certainly cute but at a starting price of $12,500 it really can't compare with the Smart Car (which we're seeing more and more of in the Washington DC area) which starts at $11,900 and uses electricity AND gas.

The Smart Car is a co-creation of Mercedes-Benz and Swatch.

The little two person vehicle maxes out at 90 mph and can be driven on any highway, unlike the Peapod which is restricted to roads that have a max speed limit of 35mph or under.

Granted the prices are similar but the Peapod is not going to help my fellow commuters (who travel on roads above 35 MPH) nor is it going to help with parking in the city. If anything it will encourage folks who now take the subway & bicycles to trade their foot traffic for 4 wheels - adding to the already overcrowded streets.

The Peapod can boast that it's greener than the Smart Car, but I don't think it's anymore practical. It runs for 30 miles on a 6-8 hour charge, where the Smart Car's miles per gallon are 33 - city & 41 highway (a measurement the Peapod can't even make).

I really think that Chrysler bit the big one here. I think that once again US car manufacturers are behind the times. Until someone can give us an electric car that goes at least 70 MPH and lasts for 500+ miles on one charge, we'll be forced to use a combination of gas & electricity to get greener. In the meantime, they should be promoting mass transit instead of thinking about how to move two people at a time in already overcrowded cities.

If I were in the market for a greener car, there would be no question which vehicle I'd be looking at.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bo arrives at the White House!

That is just about the cutest dog I've ever seen. And the girls are so great with him!

Video from, our local affiliate.

Monday, April 13, 2009

DOTUS or BOTUS? The White House Pup

Yes many people have already posted about Bo, the new White House dog, but few are showing this picture from the blog site. We are really looking forward to seeing Bo run around the White House lawn! The President will definitely have someone to join him if he decides to go jogging. :)

It's very appropriate that the Obama's decided to get a rather rambunctious breed - the Portuguese Water Dog - since FLOTUS likes to promote a healthy lifestyle. I think Bo will keep them active.

Bo is a re-homed dog, not technically a rescue but definitely a pup who's looking for his forever home. I wonder if he ever thought he'd have a yard that big!

According to the Post, the Obama's have also made a contribution to the Washington DC Humane Society.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Losing Weight & Saving Money

How do we lose weight in this economy when everyone is watching their purses just a little closer?

I'm a big proponent of shopping at Costco or Sam's club for our weekly produce, meat & dairy but be careful! Those New York strip steaks are awesome but everything at the warehouse markets are HUGE. Because everything is so large in those markets you don't realize exactly how big the steaks really are until you get home. For two people you really don't need more than one steak to split per meal. I typically buy a pack of NY strip steaks, come home and freeze them with seasoning. When it's time to grill I pull out one for the hubby & I to split. They are about 14 ounces each and 6-7 ounces of steak after cooking is more than enough to fill us up.

For about $30 I get 5 thick steaks that last us for a month. About once a week (or whenever we feel like going out for a good steak) I pull one out to grill. Serve with fingerling potatoes (often found at the warehouse markets for $6.99 for 5 pounds - at $1.40 a pound it's a steal) and mushrooms & green beans ($4.99 for 3 pounds of fresh snap beans - freeze them in portion sizes appropriate for meals).

I learned this trick from my mother in-law. Always have a steak in the freezer for those days when you're on your last dime for the budget and payday is a few days away. You can't feel bad about yourself when you're eating steak! And in moderation it's a very healthy meal. Just cut off the fat and voila!

Another trick I've learned by shopping at Costco is an idea for a healthy breakfast. The hubby & I have spent the last few years eating those God awful oatmeal bars for breakfast. The problem is, they don't fill you up & they're full of packaged sugar/flour/junk. Sure they're pretty good for you but after 3 years of eating them - it gets pretty durn old. One week while at Costco picking up 3 pounds of bananas for $1.19 (bargain!) and a $2.00 gallon of skim milk, I saw the strawberries. Yummy & ripe! I was hit with an idea. Why not try making smoothie's for breakfast? It's worth a shot right?

The following is a concoction I have stolen from a friend (thanks A!) using blueberries, strawberries, a banana and some vanilla protein powder. The result is a VERY yummy & filling smoothie with 273 calories, 2 grams of fat, 40 grams of carbs & 27 protein. We've been eating these every day for the past few weeks and I actually look forward to breakfast. They're so filling that they carry you well into lunch time. Taking the time to prep for these is key but the little extra time is SO worth it! You can use fresh berries or freeze the strawberries yourself, depending on the consistency you desire.

Per smoothie (double for two):

1/3 cup oj
1 cup de-stemmed fresh strawberries
1/2 cup frozen blueberries (3 pounds for $5.99! lasts for weeks!)
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1/2 banana
About 1/2 cup of water - depending on the consistency you desire

Blend for 20 seconds. Serve in 20 oz portable bottle.

It's a great healthy way to start your day! This smoothie also equals about 4 servings of fruits! Make them for yourself and your Significant Other one morning & see how fresh food can really make a difference in your overall health.

Friday, April 3, 2009

4 Sale

This article on talks about how a $500,000 home is now being sold for $200,000. Now besides the fact that you can't "call" it a 500k home if it's selling for 200k... I think the one thing that these articles fail to point out is how awful it is to have to short-sell or foreclose on your home because the loan you have on it is $300,000 more than your neighbors who just bought the same house next door for $300k less.

We have the same problem here in the metro Washington DC area. Homes that were valued at 500k are now going for 250k-300k. Now people are able to buy those homes at 250k because the person who owned the home previously had a loan for $500k that they couldn't pay so they were foreclosed on. So the first family is forced to leave because they cannot afford the loan they took out for 500k and another family moves in paying on a much more affordable mortgage of 250k.

So my question is this - why can't they find a way for the first family to stay in their home but pay on a mortgage that reflects the market rate for the house?

I know - it's not what we do here in America - it would totally screw up the already screwed up system of lending and borrowing - and it's not our fault that the first family bought over their means - but what good is it going to do to have a bunch of empty run down houses? What good will it do to have another family renting instead of taking pride in home ownership? Or worse yet, be on the street?

Thursday, April 2, 2009


In less than a month Ben and I will be driving to Wilkesboro, NC to attend MerleFest 2009 with my in-laws (Ruth & Ed), my favorite Uncle (Steve) and Bonnie. We're staying an a very nice cabin in West Jefferson, NC - in the mountains of NC.

MerleFest is an annual BlueGrass music festival. It features 13 stages (sized from small intimate "pickin' places" to a huge professional outdoor auditorium). It takes place every year on the campus of Wilkes Community College (located in the mountains of NC) and is has contributed over 17 million dollars to the community.

It's a fabulous event and I'm really happy we'll be going this year. Ben is taking his dobro (he took his cello last year - they have an instrument truck where you can leave your instruments in the hands of the local church during the day - tagged & logged in - so you don't have to carry them around), I'm pretty sure Ed is taking his mandolin and God only knows what Steve will take. Maybe I'll buy me some spoons this year. ;-)

The cabin has a hottub but we'll be so busy I doubt we'll even see it. Another nify thing about MerleFest is the napping tent. Yes! I said napping tent!! When we went a few years ago we drove down after work on a friday and I was so exhausted on Saturday that Ben lost me for a few hours - he couldn't find me - because I was in the napping tent snoring away. Best nap of my life! Sleeping on the grass with my purse under my head and Bluegrass in the air. Pretty darn nifty if you ask me.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

MACA asks Michelle Obama to Reconsider her Organic Garden

I find this article extremely funny. The MidAmerica CropLife Association sent a letter to Michelle Obama asking her to please reconsider her organic garden. You see, it's bad for the pesticide community to have the First Lady walking around promoting healthy lettuce (using no pesticides).

It seems that Michelle Obama’s White House organic garden has alarmed the Mid America CropLife Association (MACA), so they took immediate action by sending the First Lady an email, Thursday, March 26th, 2009, defending chemical based agriculture, and urging her to use “crop protection products,” (i.e. pesticides) in the name of recognizing the importance of agriculture to the economy.

This is the BEST example of lobbyists in Washington. What they fail to address is the difference between raising hundreds of thousands of acres of food vs raising a little side garden in your back yard. It's much easier to use organic methods to keep the bugs off in your back yard because it's such a small plot of land. Of course when you're raising thousands of tons of lettuce - pesticides are currently necessary (because - God forbid we raise smaller, local batches of food - that wouldn't bring in as much money!).

Keep in mind I'm a grandaughter of a farmer so their plight is near & dear to me. The fact that MACA sent a letter to Michelle Obama to try to "talk her into" using pesticides on the White House garden is beyond ridiculous but it is a good example of someone trying to earn their paycheck.

I guess even lobbyists in DC are worried about losing their jobs these days.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Royal Family

I found a very interesting article recently published about the DNA evidence regarding the murders of Tzar Nicholas' family in 1918. DNA evidence has confirmed that ALL of the family members were killed. No roaming Anastasia's or Alexei's. All of the souls perished in the early morning hours of July 17, 1918.

The journal publication is fantastic. In the original grave 9 bodies were found (5 royals and 4 servants) - which fueled the flames of the modern press - what happened to the other two children? In 2007 a separate grave was found to contain two bodies, that of Alexei and one of his sisters. That sister turned out to be Maria and all of the occupants of the graves have been identified via DNA evidence obtained from members of the living Romanov family.

It is a very sad thing to realize that none of the family survived. I believe that the speculation that one of the sisters lived helped the modern public surround this tragedy in a bubble of hope - that out of this horrendous deed some spark of hope still survived.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The First Lady

If you just can't get enough of Michelle Obama - here is a link to a photo montage put together by the NY Daily News that made me tear up. I got this from

Those girls are SO cute!!!!

Friday, January 30, 2009

The President & Mrs.

Time has a great slide show of a backstage view of the Obama Inauguration. Per you also get a glimpse into the cardigan the First Lady wore under her lemongrass ensemble. Great layering Mrs. Prez!

If you follow the links to other slide shows on the Time website there are also some great photos of the girls and an interesting behind the scenes montage of the President working with his advisers on his speech.

Great stuff!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The President & Mrs.

The blogger found this great pic (borrowed from the LA Times) of President Obama and his wife, Michelle backstage at one of the balls. It's so touching.

I guess I'm just in a "forward the info along" kind of mood tonight instead of coming up with anything very original. But really - he gave her his jacket! Come on - give me an" awwwwww"!

This is the second pic I've seen of them where they're touching foreheads. So cute! I wonder if it's his way of not messing up her makeup? ;-)

Friday, January 23, 2009

A first flight

National Geographic was filming a special on Air Force One and happened to be present when President Obama had his first flight. Especially amusing is how, with any type of food at his beck & call, our humble President ordered a burger.

"and cheddar if you have it" says the Prez

"sir you know I have it" replies the porter

You know they have anything he wants in the gourmet kitchen of Air Force One but all he wants is a cheeseburger, a salad and maybe those fries on the side. :)

Ya gotta love the giddiness of the moment.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obama Staffers Find Lack of Technology In White House

I don't care what your political affiliation is. This article from the Washington Post is extremely disturbing. The fact that the White House is so backwards with technology is almost unbelievable.

It's difficult to comprehend how any administration could effectively run our country without updated technology. The previous administration hadn't even updated their computers to Microsoft Office 2007!

I understand the need for security and the need to retain information for history but certainly someone who is assigned a laptop could easily hand over their machine each morning for a full download into a main database (to retain information) and some sort of security could be set up for access off-site.

I can't believe our country has been run on outdated technology! Doesn't the CIA use laptops?

I'm in shock!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Powdered Peanut Butter!

I know you're all saying, "HUH??"

My Weight Watchers coach brought in some powdered peanut butter from Bell Plantation in Tifton, GA this week. It smelled wonderful and I made a mental note to see about buying some. Well when I got into work this AM I had a great surprise! My WW friend at work bought a case and brought me not just powdered peanut butter but a jar of Chocolate powdered peanut butter!!!

It's been touted on Hungry Girl's website and several WW blogs. According to the website it's "made with premium quality peanuts that are slow roasted and pressed to remove fat." The result? Peanut butter that is not 200 calories and mostly fat (and 4 WW points) but peanut butter that is 53.2 calories, 1.87 grams of fat and .48 dietary fiber! Resulting in 1 point! ONE!

I love it when manufacturers give us the real nutrition facts down to a decimal point!

What in the world will we do with this stuff? Heck I don't know... eat it? The fact that we can now have a PB&J after a workout thrills me. The website for Bell Plantation has a bunch of recipes from folks who have tested it in the kitchen.

I love it when someone creates a product that's both good for you and tastes like the real stuff. It smells wonderful!

I'll let you know how it turns out!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Potato Salad

2 pounds of fingerling potatoes, cut up & parboiled (until they are soft but not too soft)
1/2 cup fat free plain yogurt
5 tablespoons low fat mayo (you could use ff if you have it)
1 lemon
5 slices precooked bacon
1 cup of chopped scallions (green onions)
1/2 cup low fat (or ff!) shredded sharp cheddar

Mix the yogurt & mayo, add the juice of one lemon and mix well. Add salt/pepper as desired. Add chopped up bacon (precooked!!), cheddar, scallions and parboiled potatoes.

When I drain my potatoes I rinse them in cold water, which cools them down a lot and makes it possible to serve this immediately instead of needing to wait for it to cool down.

6 servings, 4 WW points and very yummy!

Inauguration Traffic

Information on road and bridge closings during the Inauguration.

Basically all bridges and roads going into DC from VA will be closed to any non-mass transit vehicles. If you aren't on a bus, on a bike or on the metro you aren't getting into DC on January 20th. Road closures in DC proper will begin on Monday January 19th.

Plan carefully folks!

“We urge motorists – whether traveling by bus, van or car – to plan their route well in advance, know what bridges and roads will be restricted and where they will park, make sure their vehicle is in top operating condition, travel with a full tank of gas and prepare for long delays and a lot of walking,” said Col. W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. (from the NBC Washington Website)

I wonder why VA is closing all roads and bridges but MD isn't? It says that vehicular traffic is not limited from MD, only VA (although DC is urging MD residents to use mass transit). Interesting!

Richmond SPCA offers free Kitty Fixing

Being a displaced Richmond native, I have a special place in my heart for the Richmond SPCA. I watched them grow up. They are now one of the nicest no-kill shelters on the east coast.

I am on their email list and follow them even though I now live outside of Washington DC. This morning I got a blurb about how they are doing free kitty fixings! Here's the info:

Special Smoky's Spay/Neuter Clinic Offer

Our Smoky's Spay/Neuter clinic performed an amazing 13,000 free and low-cost surgeries in 2008. These surgeries are a vitally important part of our efforts to reduce the pet overpopulation problem in our community. We're starting the new year with a goal to meet or top that amazing feat and are offering free spay and neuter surgeries for all owned cats through March 31, 2009. Feral cat surgeries remain free as always. This offer is open to cats whose owners live in the City of Richmond or the counties of Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico and Goochland. There are no income restrictions and kittens weighing 2 pounds or more qualify. Appointments may be scheduled online or by calling 804-521-1300. Please note that appointments for feral cats may not be scheduled online.

I think it's absolutely fabulous that they offer a free clinic for folks to get their furry felines spayed/neutered. It's even better that they spay/neuter feral cats for free!

Please pass along this information to anyone in the Richmond, VA area who might be able to take advantage of this and if you can, send them a small donation for their great efforts animal rescue.

Their slogan is "Every life is precious" and boy do they mean it.