"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." ~ Henry David Thoreau
SAP, a major multinational German software company just announced plans to recruit 650 people with autism and train them as IT specialists. Once this goal is achieved, the trained workers will amount to 1% of the company's workforce, which reflects the proportion of the world's autistic population. Already begun in India and Ireland, the program has employed eleven autistic workers. SAP plans to expand the program across Germany, Canada and the US this year, training software testers, programmers and data managers.
In seeking out workers with autism, the company is looking to find workers with skills that are uniquely suited for the tech world. Autistic individuals often have difficulty communicating and interacting socially; their brains process information in a very different way than those without autism and this can manifest in repetitive and restrictive behaviors. However, they also display an obsession for detail and the ability to accurately analyze large amounts of data. In the tech world, these skills are highly sought-after.
Tara Roehl, a speech pathologist who specializes in autism, summed up the advantages in a recent interview with Business Insider: "They can see your product or software differently. They can figure out how something works, break down the product, find the problems and rebuild it, and they can do all that in their heads."
She explained that autistic individuals have trouble getting past recruiters who can't recognize these talents because the interviewer sees the applicant as weird or different. Sometimes they get hired but lose their jobs because they don't "fit in".
"If a company broke it down, what do they really want? Do they want someone who can take their product to the next level? Or do they want someone who can chitchat around the water cooler?"
The variety of human talents, characteristics and ways of seeing the world is what makes our experience on this earth a rich one. It is what has kept us surviving while other species disappeared from the planet. Maybe the technology that will keep the earth habitable for future generations will come from those who have a different way of looking at the world. "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." ~ Albert Einstein
Linguine with Lemon and Black Pepper may sound different, but once you taste it, this easy to make and versatile dish will become a favorite.
Linguine with Lemon and Black Pepper This pasta is easy to make and a wonderful dish to take to a picnic or potluck. The savory lemon flavor also makes this a perfect compliment to seafood or chicken, but it's fantastic all by itself. You can serve this hot or at room temperature. Use 2 large lemons or 3 small ones.
1 (16 oz) package of linguine 6 tablespoons butter 1 shallot, minced Zest and juice of 2 to 3 lemons Salt to taste (be conservative) 1/2 cup good quality finely grated Parmesan cheese Freshly ground black pepper (be generous) 3/4 cup chopped fresh Italian Parsley Additional Parmesan for the table
Cook the linguine in a big pot of boiling, well-salted water. Use tongs or a large fork to stir the linguine so that it doesn't stick together. You will probably want to cook the linguine a little less time than directed on the package. "Al dente" means "to the tooth" so make sure that, when you bite into it, there is still a slightly firm center and a bit of chewiness to the pasta.
While the pasta water is coming to a boil, make the sauce: In a small saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the minced shallot and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes to release the flavor (do not burn). Turn off the heat, add the lemon zest and juice and whisk everything together until emulsified. Stir in a tiny bit of salt and the cheese.
When the linguine is ready, drain thoroughly and toss together with the sauce and plenty of freshly ground black pepper, stirring to coat evenly. Add the chopped parsley and stir once again. Serve immediately, topped with additional Parmesan or provide extra Parmesan at the table for guests to add themselves.
"The mantra becomes one's staff of life and carries one through every ordeal. Each repetition has a new meaning, carrying you nearer and nearer to God." ~ Mahatma Gandhi
I have been sampling various yoga classes around town as part of a teacher training course that I am in the process of completing. A class that I attended recently was held on a Saturday morning, in a local park, under the shade of a big, beautiful tree. The park was surrounded on all sides with jasmine. When I arrived, I breathed in the heavenly scent. It was a beautiful way to start the morning.
This particular class was Kundalini Yoga, a style that focuses on breathing techniques and postures designed to direct the flow of energy up the spine, as well as the singing and speaking of mantras.
A mantra is a sound, a word or a collection of words whose repetition is intended to create a transformation. According to Vedic tradition, mantras are sounds manifesting spirit into matter and can be heard underlying everything in nature. The most recognizable mantra of "Om" or "Aum" is said to represent the infinite universal consciousness. The word mantra is
Sanskrit and consists of two parts: man, which is the root of the
Sanskrit word for mind, and tra, which is the root of the word meaning
instrument. Therefore, the word mantra can be defined as "an instrument of
the mind". The repetition of various mantras is said to help transform, not only one's individual mind, but also the expression of the Universal Mind.
We began that morning's class by repeating "Om" together as we sat under the big tree. The teacher led us through various movements. After a particularly challenging sequence, we all collectively took a deep breath and, as we exhaled, the teacher smiled and said, "Yay!"
As a former cheerleader, I am someone who frequently expresses moments of joy and enthusiasm with the word, "Yay!" I sometimes worry that my frequent use of this exclamation makes me appear a bit silly and unsophisticated, but I can't help it; the word just bursts forth from the center of my being when I am feeling exuberant.
When I heard this yoga teacher proclaiming her joy with the word "Yay!" it suddenly occurred to me that Yay is more than just a word. It is a primordial sound vibration that rises up from the center of our beings. "Yay!" cannot be silenced; it bursts forth from our physical bodies and from those energetic centers that process joy, enthusiasm and the celebration of gratitude.
As I lay quietly on my mat for the final pose of the morning, staring up at the big, beautiful tree who provided us all with oxygen, strength and shade, I thought of the simple blessings of that moment: fresh air, food in the fridge, gas in the car and yoga in the park. I smiled and silently repeated my mantra over and over and over again, "Yay!"
Mango Macadamia Nut Muffins will have you proclaiming "Yay!" every morning with your coffee.
Mango Macadamia Nut Muffins Trader Joe's sells sweetened shredded coconut that consists of only coconut meat, sugar and salt, unlike most packaged sweetened coconut, which contains propylene glycol, an additive used in anti-freeze! You can also buy dried shredded coconut and moisten it yourself with a little powdered sugar and milk or water.
2/3 cups packed golden brown sugar 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted but not hot 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla 8 oz of yogurt (vanilla, mango, coconut or lime flavor) 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 to 1 cup chopped macadamia nuts 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes 1 cup chopped mango pieces (approximately 1 large mango)
Preheat oven to 350°F
Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners: 12 for huge muffins 14 for large muffins 16 for smaller muffins
In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar until lightened. Add eggs and whisk. Add vanilla and yogurt and whisk again. Set aside.
In a larger bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well with a fork.
Add bowl of wet ingredients to bowl with dry ingredients. Stir until just combined.
Stir in macadamia nut pieces, coconut flakes and mango pieces until everything is mixed evenly.
Divide batter among the muffin cups.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on size of muffins. Let cool a few minutes in pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. You can wrap these up and freeze them to use as needed. Simply take out muffins the night before, defrost at room temperature and enjoy for breakfast.
"When you were a wandering desire in the mist, I too was there, a wandering desire. Then we sought one another, and out of our eagerness dreams were born. And dreams were time limitless, and dreams were space without measure." ~ Kahlil Gibran
May is the center of springtime and the season that has traditionally celebrated desire with garlands of flowers and dances around the maypole. For some, the word desire carries a negative connotation, symbolizing human weakness in the face of temptation. Instead, I would say that desire is a song begun in the first moments of creation, a song that continues to be sung.
Desire is within the green branches of every plant as it reaches towards the Sun. The Sun's desire awakens every seed to new life. Desire propels the roots of the trees towards the center of the Earth, And whispers a melody into the wind, causing the leaves to dance. Desire brings into being fruits, nuts and flowers. Desire compels the peacock to fan out its glorious feathers of green and blue. The Moon's desire pulls the tides in and out. Desire is within the soft voice of a mother as she sings a lullaby to her child. The crickets' desire fills our nights with music. Desire wrote our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Desire flew us to the Moon. Desire inspired every painting, every song and each line of every poem ever written. One could say that desire is behind everything, Because God desired the world into existence.
Desire propels us forward.
Many mistake desire for attachment, but they are not one and the same. If you can surrender the outcome of your desires, they will inspire you but not enslave you. The key is to learn to separate the mundane from the sacred, to disregard the voices of fear and listen to the voice that is love.
"Be like a flower and turn your face to the Sun." ~ Kahlil Gibran
My friend Marga kindly shared some Tahitian vanilla beans with me after her trip to the islands. Tahitian Vanilla Granita is a refreshing way to enjoy the delicate taste of vanilla beans.
Tahitian Vanilla Granita Granita is a type of Italian sorbet that doesn't require an ice cream maker. If you can't find Tahitian vanilla beans, you can substitute any type of vanilla bean in this recipe.
4 cups water 1 cup organic sugar 1 vanilla bean
You will need a 9" x 13" baking pan. Recipe should be halved if using a single 8 or 9-inch pan.
In a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Split vanilla bean lengthwise almost all the way with a sharp knife and use the tip of the knife to scrape the seeds into the sugar water. Add the bean pod to the sugar water with the seeds. Simmer over low heat, stirring, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool completely. Discard vanilla bean.
Transfer the mixture to a 9" x 13" baking pan or two round cake pans (mixture should come up no more than 1/4" of the way up side of pan(s) in order to freeze in a timely manner). Freeze for about 4 hours, stirring with a fork every 30 minutes to loosen ice that forms on side of pan and break up chunks. Once mixture is completely frozen, fluff granita with a fork and serve immediately or transfer to a glass or plastic container and store in freezer until serving time.
To serve, scrape granita with a fork to create fluffy crystals and serve in clear goblets or small bowls. You can top the granita with sweetened whipped cream or serve with vanilla cookies.
"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent." ~ Victor Hugo
Photo from L'Unità
Yesterday, in Rome, there was a protest march. That may not seem unusual in these economic times, for Italy or for our own United States. However, this particular protest was not made up of disaffected youth wearing V for Vendetta masks, angry women wearing pink shirts, men in camouflage jackets toting assault rifles or artsy types holding handwritten signs. No, the march in Rome yesterday was a march of 100 cellos.
Fabio Cavaggion is an unemployed cellist. Although he holds a diploma in his chosen field, completed two post-graduate courses, was the winner of a European cellist competition and was a member of the Portuguese Philharmonic Orchestra for 12 years, he has been unable to find employment. In order to support himself, and in protest against the cutting of arts funding in Italy and the plight of all unemployed musicians, he now plays in the streets, wearing his tailcoat as if playing for season ticket holders at the Opera.
On April 25th (an Italian national holiday) Mr. Cavaggion went to the piazza San Simeone in his tailcoat to play his cello. He had obtained a permit from the local officials in Rome, which allowed him to play for two hours, specifically between 4 pm and 6 pm. At 3:55 he began playing the Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello by Johann Sebastian Bach. Within moments, the ever-vigilant local municipal cops overseeing the piazza issued him a fine of 50 Euros for beginning too early. Ironically, April 25th is Italian "Liberation Day", marking the end of Mussolini's fascist rule over the people and the Nazi occupation of the country.
A few days later, in solidarity with Mr. Cavaggion, the members of an orchestra known as "The 100 Cellos" all marched on the piazza San Simeone in protest. Fabio was in the front row, making them 101 cellos that day.
Fabio Cavaggion has now become somewhat of an internet celebrity, after the absurdity of his fining was made public. The president of Rome's eleventh district has suggested that Fabio should be offered a tour in the local piazza and he is being considered for recognition by a prestigious arts society, the Premio Fregene. Best of all, both local and international attention has been drawn to the problem of unemployment, the lack of arts funding, and freedom of expression in public places - issues facing not only Europe, but the States as well. The March of 100 Cellos accomplished this not through violence or explosions or vandalism, but instead via music, creativity and beauty.
"This, then, is the test we must set for ourselves: not to march alone but to march in such a way that others will want to join us." ~ Hubert H. Humphrey
Farro is a delicious cousin of wheat that's full of fiber and vitamins. It lends a wonderful texture and flavor to Insalata di Farro (Farro Salad).
Insalata di Farro (Farro Salad) This salad is easy to make and, if you use quick-cooking farro (available at Trader Joe's), the preparation time is even shorter. Take this to a lunch with friends or on a picnic. It makes a lovely vegetarian dinner or side dish when served warm, but it's also delicious the next day.
About 1 & 3/4 cups uncooked farro (Trader Joe's 10 Minute Farro is just shy of this amount)
1 (15oz) can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste One clove of garlic, peeled 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar 1 shallot, finely chopped (about 2 rounded tablespoons) 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1 cup chopped celery hearts (with tender leaves) 1/2 cup slivered, unsalted almonds A pinch of crumbled dried rosemary
Cook farro in salted water according to package directions. Drain of excess water (use a mesh strainer if you have one). Stir garbanzo beans into farro while still warm and fluff with a fork. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper and set aside.
In a large salad bowl, add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Make a few cuts in the end of the garlic clove and rub into salt all around bottom of bowl. Add vinegar and shallot; let sit a few minutes. Whisk in oil until blended, then discard garlic clove. Season with pepper and more salt, if desired (Parmesan cheese is salty, so be conservative with your salt amount).
Add the cheese, celery, almonds and rosemary. Add farro and garbanzo mixture. Toss everything together well. Serve warm or at room temperature. You can store leftovers in fridge; it will be delicious the next day, but make sure to bring salad to room temperature before serving.
"Leftovers in their less visible form are called memories, stored in the refrigerator of the mind and the cupboard of the heart." ~ Thomas Fuller
Americans are the most wasteful people on the planet, throwing out 7.1 pounds of trash a day per person, leading to a lifetime waste of 103 tons of garbage for every man, woman and child. Garbage is also now the number one export of the United States (China buys our scrap paper and metal, makes new stuff out of it and sells it back to us for a profit). The biggest category of American trash by far is packaging and containers. Most are recyclable, but end up tossed into landfills anyway. Here is a list of how long it takes some everyday items to break down once discarded:
Vegetables 5 days to 1 month Paper 2 to 5 months Cotton T-shirt 6 months Tree leaves 1 year Milk Cartons 5 years Leather shoes 25 to 40 years Aluminum cans 80 to 100 years Glass bottles 1 million years Plastic bags 500 years to forever Styrofoam cups 500 years to forever
Styrofoam is a polystyrene foam insulation, trademarked by the Dow Chemical Company. It is made from petroleum using a carcinogenic chemical known as benzene during its production. Styrofoam takes up 30% of landfill space worldwide and does not break down. When ingested by animals, Styrofoam blocks the digestive track, leading to starvation.
The good news is that the work of graduate students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has lead to the development of a new alternative to Styrofoam packaging that is made out of mushroom roots. Called "Mushroom Packaging" the 100 percent compostable, biodegradable and renewable material feels and performs just like foam. In addition, its production uses 98 percent less energy than foam packaging. The new product is produced by a company called Ecovative Design. For more information check out their website at mushroompackaging.com Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it." ~ Helen Keller
Emotions can also take awhile to biodegrade, especially after weeks like the last one. Even those of us who were not directly affected by the bombings in Boston or the explosion in Texas have been impacted emotionally by the events. Family gatherings, group meetings, personal encounters and even celebrations can also leave an emotional residue that can take a physical toll, leaving us feeling a bit fragile.
Here is a handy visualization that I use to clean up excess emotional residue, transforming it into something new and beneficial:
I call it my "Recycler"...
Find a quiet place to sit or lie down and breathe slowly, in and out through your nose. Imagine a large pink bag that is expandable (almost like a big bubble-gum bubble). Put all of your angry words, fears, judgements and resentments into the bag and tie off the end. Now, imagine someone standing in front of you or maybe sitting up in the clouds who is dressed in a pink uniform. This is your personal Recycler. It can be a man or a woman (mine is a Buddha-like figure who is always smiling). Give your bag of emotional junk to your Recycler and ask him or her to transform the items inside. You can ask anger to be transformed into compassion, tolerance and love; judgement to be transformed into humility and fear to be transformed into faith. Or, you can simply ask that the items inside your emotional bag be reshaped, recolored and reformed into something that uplifts and heals someone else, somewhere in the world, leaving the identity and location of the recipient up to your Recycler. Thank your Recycler and open your eyes, ready to begin your day with a fresh start and a lightened emotional load.
Here's to new beginnings. Happy Earth Day!
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino have announced the formation of The One Fund Boston, Inc. to help the people most affected by the events at the Marathon on April 15, 2013. Go to onefundboston.org for more info and to donate.
Mushroom and Goat Cheese Packets are a great way to use leftover filo dough
Mushroom and Goat Cheese Packets I invented these handy lunch packets after I had leftover filo pastry from making the Banana Coconut Baklava a few weeks ago. The recipe is based on the Greek favorite, Spanekopita. You can also fill these with leftover mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes for a yummy snack. Instructions for freezing and reheating are at the end of the recipe.
For mushrooms filling: 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 (8 oz) carton of cremini or button mushrooms, sliced thin 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar or sherry vinegar 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice 1/4 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika 1/8 teaspoon cayenne Salt and pepper to taste 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley Or: 1 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary or thyme
2 tablespoons sour cream 4 oz crumbled goat cheese, such as feta
10 filo pastry sheets 1/4 cup of olive oil (for brushing pastry)
You will need a pastry brush for this recipe.
To prepare mushroom filling: Heat the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the mushrooms over high heat for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Lower the heat to medium and add the garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper. Continue cooking and stirring until the mushrooms have softened (about 5 minutes).
Remove from heat and stir in the herbs, then the sour cream, then the goat cheese. Set aside.
Stack thawed filo sheets on plastic wrap and cover with a damp towel to prevent drying out while you work.
Preheat oven to 350°F
Separate out one filo sheet and brush surface with olive oil. Fold sheet lengthwise in one third of the way, then another third of the way, creating a long strip. Place one heaping tablespoon of filling in the lower corner of the strip and fold the corner over the filling, making a triangle shape at the bottom of the strip. Continue folding strip like you would fold a flag, maintaining the triangle shape until all the way folded. Brush finished triangle with oil and set on baking pan.
Continue with remaining filo and filling.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
Note: if you plan to freeze and reheat some, bake those a little closer to golden than golden brown. Cool completely, wrap individually in plastic or foil and place in a freezer bag.
To reheat from frozen: Cook in a preheated 350°F oven or toaster oven for 13 to 15 minutes. This will retain the crispness. At this point, if necessary, you can heat another 30 to 60 seconds in the microwave.
"We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn't always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out." ~ Roger Ebert
A little over a week ago, Roger Ebert, the famous film critic, died after a long battle with cancer. Mr. Ebert wrote film reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until he died. He was the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. He and his TV partner Gene Siskel co-hosted a popular television series called At the Movies and created the phrase, "Two Thumbs Up," given when both of them endorsed a particular movie. Although most people know Mr. Ebert only for his work as a movie critic, his life was about so much more. He gave up drinking and spent 30 years helping other people give it up. When he lost his lower jaw to cancer, and with it his voice, he adapted to writing blogs, tweets, books and online columns and decided to strive to contribute good to the world and those in his life. At his recent memorial service, over 2000 friends showed up to give over 3 hours of heartfelt praise to the positive effects Roger Ebert's life and work had on others.
Our lives can sometimes seem like a movie. Unfortunately, too many of us take on the role of critic: observing, categorizing and judging people, events and ourselves. Being the critic and constantly giving the thumbs up/thumbs down keeps us from fully participating in life. Because while we are busy criticizing, we remain stuck inside our minds and egos.
We can, instead, take the role of audience member. Our life story can be a roller coaster ride of emotions or it can have a more slow-moving plot. The events depicted can be funny, sad, exciting, scary or heartwarming. The best movies keep you engaged in the story; your mind doesn't wander. This way of experiencing life does keep us in the moment, but it can ultimately leave us feeling out of control.
The best role to play is that of an actor. To give a great performance, an actor must be fully present in the moment; they must completely pay attention to their surroundings and what the other players are saying and doing. A good actor also realizes that some things are out of their control; what the other actors do, how the scene was written and how the movie is being directed. The one thing they can control is their reaction to all of these elements. A great actor makes the most of whatever is happening in the moment. They love what they do, and this passion ultimately makes their performance, as well as the performances of those around them, better.
This week, see the events that take place in your life as a movie that you are acting in. Keep your attention in every moment, remembering that your job is not to judge, but to participate. Keep in mind that you can't control the actions of the other players or the choices of the director. A traffic jam on your morning commute and the guy that decides to speed up when you change lanes are both out of your control. However, what is in your control is how you react to the scene you are given. Will your morning drive be funny, frustrating or inspirational? The choice is up to you.
It's fun to see the original reviews of movies like Blade Runner, Return of the Jedi, E.T, Back to the Future, Pulp Fiction, The Big Lebowski and others from the years they premiered. Go to siskelandebert.org and click on videos.
Save money and avoid the extra fat and additives of microwaved popcorn. I make Paper Bag Popcorn using nothing but organic popping corn and a brown paper lunch bag.
Paper Bag Popcorn All you need is a bag of organic popping corn (certified organic corn is never genetically modified) and some brown paper lunch bags and you'll never have to buy microwavable popcorn again! Note for women: a lunch bag full of freshly popped corn will fit inside your "movie purse" for a healthier alternative to what is available at the theater.
You will need: Organic popping corn Brown paper lunch bags Butter, salt and other seasonings, if desired
Instructions per serving: In a brown paper lunch bag, add 1/4 cup popping corn. Fold the top of the bag over a couple of times, using small folds. Make a small tear in the center of the folded part and fold either side down in opposite directions to hold the top shut.
Place bag long side down in the microwave and heat on high for 2 to 3 minutes, until there are 4 or 5 seconds between pops. Do not leave microwave unattended. You want to be able to listen for the rate of pops and stop immediately when it slows down. It only takes a few extra seconds to burn the popcorn and you don't want to risk ruining you corn or, worse, starting a fire.
Open the bag carefully, because steam will have built up. You can now melt a little butter to pour over your popcorn and/or flavor it with salt or other seasonings. It is also delicious as is.
"What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. What happens on Twitter stays on Google forever." ~ Jure Klepic
Most people know that it is a good idea to make a will in order to ensure that your wishes are carried out when you're not here anymore, and to make dealing with your stuff easier for your friends and family. But, have you ever wondered what happens to all of the posts, emails, profiles and preferences you have created online once you die? Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Flickr and Tumblr are discovering that digital profiles sometimes outlive the users who have created them. What about your email accounts? What if a friend or loved one needs to access them for important information or records? On the other hand, what if you don't want certain parts of your online presence made public ever?
Twitter and Facebook both allow a deceased user's account to be removed by friends and family with the proof of a death certificate. Facebook offers the option to turn a profile into a memorial page after someone dies. Some of the newer networks like Pinterest and Instagram don't yet have a specific policy for how to manage profiles of deceased users. Google's Gmail alows the authorized representative for the deceased person's estate to apply for the right to access the account. However, in order to respect the privacy of the original user, Google does not guarantee that this access will be granted.
If you are active online, the U.S. Government suggests creating a Social Media Will. A Social Media Will is a statement of how you would like your online identity to be handled.
Making one is fairly simple. Here are some guidelines:
Review the privacy policies and the terms and conditions of each website where you have a presence.
You can title your document, "Last Social Media Will and Testament of (your name)." Write your full name and don't use a nickname.
Follow the title with a declaration giving your full legal name and address. A will must be written in sound judgment and mental capacity in order to be valid. In most states, you must be 18 years of age or older. Write that you are of sound mind and of legal age.
State how you would like your profiles to be handled. You may want to completely cancel and delete your profiles or keep some or all of them up for friends and family to visit. Some sites allow users to create a memorial page where other users can still see your profile but can't post anything new.
Like with a traditional will, you'll need to appoint someone you trust as an online executor. This person will be responsible for closing your email addresses, social media profiles and blogs after you are deceased.
Give the social media executor a document that lists all of the websites where you have a profile, along with your usernames and passwords. Let the executor know about any special content that you would like preserved or deleted or if there are any important documents, photos or emails that need to be retrieved.
Stipulate in your will that the online executor should have a copy of your death certificate. The online executor may need this as proof in order for websites to take any action on your behalf.
It is not necessary to notarize your will but this can safeguard against any claims that your will is invalid. To be valid you must sign a will in the presence of at least two witnesses (other than the person you name as executor).
And that's it! Now you can sleep easy, knowing that you will not be remembered forever for that one photo or comment that you never got around to deleting.
Bake once and have a tasty breakfast all week long with Raspberry Chocolate Almond Muffins.
Raspberry Chocolate Almond Muffins This are easy to make ahead and freeze. Just take one out of the freezer the night before and have a delicious on-the-go breakfast treat for the morning. You can experiment with other nuts and different flavors of yogurt. Try blueberry yogurt and walnuts or peach yogurt and pecans.
1 cup all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 cup organic sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg 6 oz carton of raspberry yogurt 4 tablespoons vegetable oil 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup slivered raw unsalted almonds 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 400°F
Line 7 tins of of a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda. Stir with a fork until mixed thoroughly.
In another smaller bowl, whisk together egg, yogurt, vegetable oil and vanilla.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.
Divide batter among the 7 lined muffin tins. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool a couple of minutes in the pan and then remove muffins to cool completely on a wire rack.
"The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn; the bird waits in the egg; and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities." ~ James Allen, As a Man Thinketh
Easter Sunday is approaching. The stores are filled with chocolate eggs, fluffy bunnies, marshmallow chicks and pastel-colored baskets to put them in. When I was little, my mom wore L'Eggs brand pantyhose that (in those days) were packaged in large, plastic, egg-shaped containers. Amazingly, every year the Easter Bunny would make use of the left-over L'Eggs "eggs" for my Easter basket and fill them with goodies. I always opened the plastic eggs with anticipation, excitement and joy. Anything could be inside, but I knew it would be a treat of some sort.
The egg is an amazing feet of engineering. It is simple, oval, quiet and contained. Each egg contains within its center a miniature sun. Spring is the time when the Sun awakens from his annual slumber. It is the sunrise of the year. It is the time of reawakening. The Easter story represents the miracle of rebirth and so does the season in which it is commemorated. Spring is a time of possibility. It is the egg from which the coming year is hatched.
Throughout history, the egg has symbolized birth, potential and possibility. A fertilized egg holds within it no less a miracle than a living, breathing chicken. An unfertilized egg could become any one of a number of new creations: a loaf of bread, a birthday cake, or breakfast. Alchemically, the egg is a symbol of the Cosmos, which is full of infinite mystery and potential for discovery.
Bunnies are also associated with Easter time. Rabbits, being symbols of fertility, represent exponential possibilities of rebirth. This is the time of year when new flowers, new lives and new ideas are waiting to be born.
Whether you celebrate this season inside a church or out in the garden, take some quiet time this weekend to embrace the infinite possibility of the sunrise. All around us now are living, breathing representations of the fact that new beginnings are, not only possible, but inevitable. No matter how stuck you may feel in your own life, no matter how frustrating world events might seem, remember that every breath you take is at once an ending and a beginning.
This time of year is nature's way of reminding us that there is always a chance to rise again, beautifully.
Shoyu is another name for soy sauce. Simmering hard boiled eggs in soy sauce gives them a savory flavor and a pretty caramel color. They also make a delicious and attractive addition to Springtime Noodle Soup with Shoyu Eggs.
Springtime Noodle Soup with Shoyu Eggs Shoyu (soy sauce) eggs make a tasty snack. It's a quick and easy way to make left-over Easter eggs interesting. Simmering boiled eggs in soy sauce creates a dark caramel color on the outside of the egg and makes for a nice contrast when you slice them open. In this recipe, I have added them to a simple Japanese-style noodle soup. Annie Chun's makes prepared chow mein noodles in packs of two 6oz servings that can be found in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores. Or you can boil packaged dried ramen noodles, drain them and add to the recipe.
Shoyu Eggs: 4 hard boiled eggs, peeled 1/2 cup organic soy sauce
Soup: 4 cups miso broth, vegetable broth or chicken broth 2 green onions, trimmed and chopped 1 medium carrot, grated 4 mushrooms, cleaned and sliced 2 teaspoons organic soy sauce 12 ounces (1 & 1/2 cups) prepared ramen or chow mein noodles Pepper to taste 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
Make Shoyu Eggs: In a 10-inch saucepan, heat the soy sauce over medium-high heat. When the soy sauce just begins to bubble, reduce heat to medium and add the eggs. Using a soup spoon, coax the eggs around the pan in the soy sauce to coat. Keep rolling the eggs gently around the pan until the soy sauce is super-thick and the eggs are a dark caramel color. Turn off heat, remove eggs to a plate and set aside.
Make Soup: In a medium saucepan, heat broth, onions, carrot, mushroom and soy sauce over medium-high heat. Once boiling, add noodles and boil for one minute, then reduce heat to simmer. Season to taste with pepper. Stir in sesame oil. Turn off heat.
Divide soup, noodles and vegetables among two bowls. Cut shoyu eggs in half and arrange on top of soup. Serve immediately.
"It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart." ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Some of you may be reading this post on a portable electronic device like an iPad. When your arm lifts up items like iPads or books, your bicep shrinks up into a hard ball. In anatomical language, this action by your muscle is referred to as "concentric shortening". When you put the item you have just lifted back down, your muscle lengthens while, at the same time, remaining in a state of tension, in order to resist gravity. This anatomical action is referred to as, "eccentric lengthening".
The term "Eccentric Lengthening" could also perfectly describe the history of Daylight Saving Time, the way we choose to move our clocks back and forth in order to extend the hours of sunlight.
This past Wednesday, March 20th, marked the return of the spring season. The weather is finally warming up here; it feels like California again, especially now that the sun sets an hour later by the clock. This is also the time of year that we "Spring Forward" by setting our clocks ahead one hour. The odd thing is, across most of the United States, we did this almost two weeks ago, while the season was officially still winter.
I remember back in 2007, when Congress decided to extend Daylight Saving Time so that it would begin the second Sunday in March and last until the first Sunday in November. I was mildly irritated by what I perceived to be politicians messing with tradition on behalf of some unknown lobbyist. However, one of the biggest reasons we change our clocks is that this practice reportedly saves electricity (mainly in the evening hours) and we have not been able to quite make up our minds what time it is for over a hundred years.
Benjamin Franklin first suggested the idea in his 1784 essay, "An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light." Then, in March of 1918, to save resources during the First World War, the U.S. Congress officially placed the country on Daylight Saving Time. The law was so unpopular it was repealed once the war ended. When the World went to war again, Congress reinstated DST year-round from 1942 until 1945.
From 1945 to 1966 various states and localities were free to observe DST as they wished. This created confusion, especially for trains, planes and TV stations. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 established a national Daylight Saving Time to begin on the last Sunday of April and ending on the last Sunday of October. States and territories were still free not to observe DST but, if they did, they had to abide by the national standards.
Still, Congress couldn't make up their minds. The law was amended once again in 1986 to begin DST on the first Sunday in April. Apparently, adding the extra weeks was estimated to save 300,00 barrels of oil each year.
Which brings us to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (beginning in 2007), which put us on the schedule we are on now: we "spring forward" nearly two weeks before springtime.
The orange blossoms are covering the tree outside my house once again. The fragrance began to fill the pathway leading up to my doorway a few days ago, just in time for the first day of spring. We can decide to say the hours are whatever we want them to be. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what the clock says; nature knows what time it is.
The winner of the Sweet Surprises Recipe Contest and a beautiful basket of agave products from Wholesome Sweeteners, was Geraldine Adler. Her winning recipe for Banana Coconut Baklava is below and it's yummy!
Banana Coconut Baklava These are delicious served warm with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream or coconut sorbet.
3 large bananas 1/4 cup Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Blue Agave 1/2 cup dried shredded coconut 3 to 6 filo pastry sheets 1/4 cup butter, melted More agave syrup, for drizzling
Optional for garnish: Cocoa powder Additional shredded coconut
Filo tips: Thaw in refrigerator overnight, then leave on counter at room temperature for a couple of hours. Remove from package just before using. Gently unfold stack of filo onto a sheet of plastic wrap and cover completely with a damp towel to keep from drying out. You can re-fold unused sheets, wrap in plastic, and put in a large sealed zip bag and keep in fridge for a couple of weeks to use in another recipe.
Preheat oven to 350°F
Lightly butter a large baking pan or cookie sheet and line with foil. Set aside.
Peel banana and brush entire surface with some agave syrup. Roll in/sprinkle all over with coconut. Repeat with remaining bananas.
Unfold filo stack onto a plastic-wrap-lined counter. Cover with a damp dishtowel to keep from drying out. Use one filo sheet for each banana or two if your sheets are small.
Using a pastry brush, cover inside surface of filo sheet with some melted butter. Place an agave and coconut coated banana across the bottom of the filo sheet. Roll the filo over the banana a bit, then fold in sides. Continue rolling up banana all the way. Place on the buttered baking pan/cookie sheet. Brush surface of pastry with more melted butter. Repeat with remaining bananas.
Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until golden. Let stand several minutes before slicing. Slice into 2 inch pieces and drizzle with additional agave syrup. You can also top them with a dusting of cocoa powder and/or additional shredded coconut. Serve immediately (although they are delicious even the next day - they just won't be crisp).
"The number is nothing; it's the meaning, the syntax; it's what's between the numbers." ~ From the movie, Pi (1998)
Happy Pi Day!
The 1998 indie film Pi, directed by Darren Aronofsky, has been playing on my cable movie channels this month. The story centers on a mathematical genius named Max Cohen who, in the process of searching for numerical patterns within the movements of the Stock Market, discovers a number so profound it could bring about his destruction. I will risk a spoiler here and reveal that what he ultimately finds is redemption. The movie Pi is frantic, weird, chaotic, ugly, beautiful, provocative and poetic. I loved it when it first premiered and it has remained one of my favorites. I can relate to its theme of madness brought on by searching for patterns in numbers and the redemption that comes from ultimately discovering their mystical beauty.
Mathematically, Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. So, for any circle, if you divide the circumference (distance around) by the diameter (distance across through the center) you will always get the same exact number. That number is called Pi. No matter what size the circle is, Pi remains the same. Pi is called an irrational number because it cannot be written as a ratio of integers (like 3/4). Because Pi is irrational, its digits never end or repeat. Pi day is named as such because it falls on March 14 (3/14 here in the States). 3.14 are the first three integers within the number Pi, which continues into infinity.
As numbers go, I'm also a big fan of 9. I could do an entire blog post on the cool tricks 9 can pull off. For example, multiples of nine are always made up of digits that add up to nine (9 x 3 = 27, 2 + 7 = 9; 9 x 11 = 99, 9 + 9 = 18 and 1 + 8 = 9, etc). The exception is 9 x 0. For me, no number can compete with zero.
Zero is both everything and nothing.
I see zero as a metaphor for God. If you visualize the number line: ... -3, -2, -1, 0 1, 2, 3 ... you see that zero is at the center with positive and negative numbers being born out on either side into infinity. Now imagine that each number is a being, like you perhaps, looking into a mirror and seeing its reflection, its opposite, on the other side: -1 +1, -2 +2, -3 +3, etc. It's like we need to oppose each other to be able to have the experience of self. But look at what happens when those opposed to one another come together: -1 + 1 = 0, -2 + 2 = 0, -3 + 3 = 0.
Each of us is an integral part of the divine whole. Are the cells in your body separate entities? In a way, yes. But, I'm sure you would say that they are, in truth, an integral part of the body of you. Separateness and opposition are illusions that assist us in having an awareness of self. If we cling to our ego, we remain apart. But, if we can one day be willing to risk losing the self to become nothing, we will find everything.
I have come to see mathematics as both science and art. As the language of science, mathematics can seem, to those not scientifically inclined, to be a dry and difficult subject. But there is more to the study of number than meets the eye. Mathematics is also a language of mysticism. "Mathematics is the sister, as well as the servant, of the arts and is touched with the same madness and genius." ~ Harold Marston Morse
Now go treat yourself to a nice piece of pie.
After a long cold spell, it feels like summer here in California. Here is a cool green pie to honor St. Patrick's Day.
Frozen Avocado Lime Pie A cool frozen treat, kind of like a creamy key lime pie, but with a surprise ingredient. Be sure to use a creamy-type California avocado, such as Haas (the wrinkly black-skinned kind). Don't use the smooth-skinned watery avocados. If avocados for dessert sounds weird, you might be interested to know that in the Philippines, Brazil, Indonesia, Vietnam, Southern India and Morocco, avocados are often used for milkshakes, ice cream and other desserts, sometimes topped off with chocolate syrup!
For the Crust
1 & 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 10 2-piece grahams) 1/4 cup organic sugar 6 tablespoons butter, melted Pinch of salt (omit if using salted butter)
For the Filling
2 medium-sized ripe California (Haas type) avocados 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 4 limes) 8 ounce package of organic neufchatel cream cheese, at room temperature 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk Zest of 1 lime
Optional: Sweetened whipped cream or shredded dried coconut, to serve
Make the crust: Using a rolling pin, crush graham cracker cookies between two pieces of plastic wrap. Combine the melted butter with the graham crumbs, sugar and salt (if using) in a bowl and mix thoroughly with a fork. Press mixture evenly into the bottom and partially up the sides of an 8" or 9" springform pan. Refrigerate until set (about 1 hour).
Make the filling: Halve and pit the avocados, then scoop out the flesh into a large mixing bowl. Add the lime juice and mash together with a fork. Add the cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer on low speed at first to combine, then on medium speed until mostly smooth. Add the condensed milk and the lime zest and beat until smooth. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl a couple of times with a rubber spatula if needed.
Remove crust from fridge. Pour the filling into the crust and press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pie to cover (to prevent discoloration). Cover springform pan with foil and freeze 4 hours or overnight.
To serve: Remove from freezer. Let sit at room temperature for a few minutes. Carefully remove the springform ring and slice the pie. Garnish with sweetened whipped cream or shredded dried coconut, if desired. Serve immediately.
Note: If you are not going to eat all of the pie, immediately wrap any unused portions with plastic wrap and return to freezer.
Serves 8 to 12
Frozen Avocado Lime Mini Pies Use 12 paper-lined muffin cups. Divide the crumb mixture among the cups and refrigerate until set. Divide the filling mixture evenly among the cups. Be sure to cover the top of each mini pie with plastic wrap before freezing. This will make 12 frozen mini pies.
"In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different." ~Coco Chanel
Thank you to the plants...
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison found that, when consumed as a no-sugar or low-sugar lemonade, lemon juice increases the amount of citrate in the urine
to levels known to inhibit kidney stones (webmd.com).
Click on the Wholesome Sweeteners link below for a Philosopher's Spoon recipe for Soft-Baked Blackstrap Molasses Cookies!