Thursday, October 25, 2012

Review: Happy, the Documentary

 What makes people happy? It is what is explored in this documentary by Roko Belic as he goes from the ghettos of Kolkata, India to the swamps of the cajun backwoods of Louisiana. Maybe unsurprisingly, the answer is not money, it is not success, it is not material items. It is living a balanced life, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy natural diet, exercising regularly, and your ability to bounce back from adversity.

The documentary compared a rickshaw driver's overall happiness to the overall happiness of wealthy Americans and found that the rickshaw driver was happier and more satisfied with his life than the wealthy Americans... even though he lived in a shack with a tarp for a roof and didn't have enough food all the time.

The documentary found that after basic needs are met, the happiness rating between someone making $5,000 a year as compared to $50,000 a year was huge; however, the difference between a person making $50,000 and $50 million was not noticeable.

The creators then went to the land of the most 100 year old people per capita to study what they do differently as compared to the rest of the world, Okinawa, Japan. The things that stuck out most to me from Okinawa were: (1) the sense of community. Everyone took care of one another, they encouraged one another, and they were close with their neighbors. The were not isolated from one another and social interaction was a huge part of their daily lives. (2) Everyone got a lot of sleep. (3) Exercise was important. Not traditional Westernized exercise, but gardening daily, daily walks, chasing children around, children running around instead of playing video games, etc. (4) Diet, their diets were relatively natural (i.e vegetable based, meat but not a lot of it, a lot of fruit etc.), and obesity or even overweight people are not the norm. 

This documentary got me thinking about life and my personal quest for happiness. I am a generally happy and optimistic person and I attribute it to my lifestyle. I surround myself with people that I truly enjoy their company and I spend a lot of time with them (I'm hardly ever alone), I eat a healthy and well balanced diet, I exercise regularly, I scare the shit out of myself regularly, and I routinely get 8 hours of sleep a night. I think I need to start volunteering more though, I do not do this enough. I am planning on looking for an organization to volunteer with soon. If anyone has any recommendations, please email me with them.

"I have decided to be happy, because it's good for my health." ~Voltaire

Live long and prosper, my friends.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lemon Shrimp Scampi with Linguine

I don't normally post recipes that I make, but I would like to start because I make some awesome food sometimes in my pursuit for a healthy lifestyle and a trim waistline. Last night I got a little CRAY in my kitchen making some lemon shrimp scampi with linguine. I modified the original recipe to use less butter, less oil, and more garlic and lemon for flavor instead.

I started with 2 pounds of linguine (I prefer the whole grain, Healthy Harvest because it has more fiber and fills me up with less of it than regular pasta):

I boiled the noodles with 2 Tablespoons of Artisan Olive Oil and a dash of my new favorite sea salt, Himalayan Sea Salt. You can find it at Target. I boil the noodles longer than regular pasta noodles so that they are softer. They tend to be really dense if you boil them the recommended time.

Next up is 2 pounds of shrimp, a healthy dollop of fresh minced garlic, 2 Tablespoons of salted butter, and 2 Tablespoons of Artisan Olive Oil. Fry it until the shrimp are pink, being careful and stirring often because the garlic burns easily.


Once the shrimp is done, pour it in a bowl with butter/olive oil/garlic sauce/concoction that it had cooked in and a 1/2 cup of lemon juice.

When the noodles are finished, dump them in with the shrimp as well as hot red pepper flakes and ground pepper. Get a second mixing bowl and toss the mixture back and forth. It is easier to do this than to stir it with a spoon, as the spoon smooshes the noodles and creates a mess. 

Final Result:


This recipe made 4 servings, so I will be eating it for the next two days for lunch and dinner. With all the garlic in there, my breath is going to smell A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Anyone wanna make out?

Final Opinion: The flavor is very lemony and very refreshing. It feels like a heavy meal because of the pasta being whole-grain, but it is about 350-450 calories per serving. When I was first making it I was a little leery about the "sauce" being primarily lemon juice. I thought it was going to have that bland whole grain pasta taste; however, the "sauce" mixed nicely and the addition of a couple tablespoons of olive oil made this pretty amazing.

2 lbs of whole grain linguine
1/2 cup of lemon juice
5 Tablespoons of good Olive Oil (Go to Marshall's/Home Goods/TJMaxx for this, you can get really high end brands and exotic olive oils for a pretty good deal as compared to some stores)
2 lbs of raw shrimp
3 Tablespoons of fresh minced garlic
2 Tablespoons of salted butter
1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of hot red pepper flakes

Have a nice day y'all. I love you.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Unicorn Whiskers and Troll Farts

For the last 40-50-60 years we have been an age obsessed society that has focused heavily on anti-aging creams/potions/surgery to maintain a youthful appearance. Ingesting unicorn whiskers and swallowing troll farts just to keep from having a few crows feet around the eyes. I think the tides are finally turning in our favor... and it couldn't have come too soon as I approach 32 in 2 weeks.

It used to be considered your prime when you were in your early to mid 20's, 30 was considered old. I do believe that number is slowly moving upward to your late 30's early 40's and we have Hollywood to thank for that, ironically. With popular TV shows like Sex and the City, Cougartown, and Mad Men it has become trendy to be in your 30's, 40's, and 50's as long as you maintain your waistline and your appearance. Eminem turns 40 in a few days and he is still relevant among the rap community and the young. If this fact alone doesn't tell you that being 40 is cool nowadays, then the fact that Demi Moore is 49 and still looks way better than the majority of women on this planet under the age of 25 should definitely seal the deal for you. Cher is 66 years old and she is one of the coolest chicks on this planet, next to Madonna who is 54. These women are strong, gorgeous, successful, confident, and not in their 20's.

30's are the new 20's and 40's the new 30's. It has become okay to be 30 and single now, whereas before it was considered pathetic for women and you were a "playboy" if you were of the male persuasion. Now it is pretty normal to meet a lot of 30+ people who are not married, who do not have children, and live alone. Being in your 30's allows you to have financial freedom that you don't have in your 20's, you have the self-confidence to go after what you want, you are settled into your career and have the freedom to follow dreams, your college loans are probably close to being paid off, and you probably own your own home and car by this point. It is no longer "cool" or "chic" to be 20 years old and out in the club, it is considered juvenile and childish... we are entering the era of hip little bars that have a plethora of local microbrews on tap, and the women are not wearing loincloths masquerading as their dress.

Clubs will always have a place among the young children because they are still trying to develop some sort of self-worth and self-esteem, that can apparently only be gained by having sweaty-ass men ogling their cleavage and stealing cheap feels from up their tiny skirts... but god damn I am glad to not be part of that demographic anymore.

I am happy to be turning 32, it is a gift denied to many.  I am looking forward to the adventures that I will continue to have well into retirement age. I am sexier and more attractive at 32 than I was at 20 and I wouldn't go back to my 20's if I was ever given the opportunity.

Would you eat that troll fart to shave 15 years off your age? Not I. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Never Ending Quest for Domestication

I am totally weird sometimes... and creepy too. I can openly admit those things without embarrassment. I have this weird fetish when it comes to watching extremely obese people. Something about it makes me want to gag, but it also keeps me on track as far as my exercise program and living a healthy life because I am appalled at the way they live their life. Well I have another confession and it is really embarrassing and delusional... Some days I dream about being a stay-at-home wife/mother. This is really hard to admit considering the type of woman that I am, but I know why I do it.

Soooo, I love Google Reader. I subscribe to a multitude of blogs ranging from travel and cooking, gardening and crafts, to fashion and healthy living. It is an odd list to be perfectly honest. A list that you wouldn't expect if you don't know me very well. There are a few blogs that I subscribe to where these stay-at-home women create the most amazing food dishes, reupholster the most beautiful chairs that they found on a random Tuesday morning when they took their kids for a walk to the park, and sew their own curtains. I love these blogs. I spend hours reading through them and day dreaming about all the things I would do if I didn't have to work and could stay at home rearing children and being a cute little wifey. Here's my list so far:
  • refinish this beautiful hutch that I have had in my storage room for years
  • reupholster this beautiful antique chair that I found many years ago
  • find the perfect lamp shade for an antique lamp that I own
  • grow a garden
  • make my own cinnamon cashew butter and cinnamon swirl bread
  • put hardwood floors in the rest of my house
  • dig a fire pit
  • compost
  • be highly fashionable with my hair done every day
  • cook fabulously healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day
  • raise chickens
  • live on a farm
These are just a few things that are on my day dream list. I have zero free time in my schedule these days, so the idea of not having a job and just staying at home really appeals to me right now which is absolute craziness. If I did not have a job and didn't have to worry about money, I would not even stay at home. I would buy an RV, pack my dogs up, pack my kitty up, attach a trailer for my motorcycle, throw my mountain bike and kayak on top and hit the road. So I'm not really sure why these things seem so darn appealing to me because it isn't even what I would do. They make me want to settle down, find a husband, and pop a few chitlin out though because I see all these wives and mothers who seem to have all this free time to work on their domestication so I attribute it to what I don't have. A husband and children.

I know this is a complete generalization of stay-at-home wives and mothers out there. I know many who sleep only a few hours a night because of all the things they have to take care of  for their family, but much like seeing bad children... you rationalize with yourself and say "oh my kids will never act like that" which enables you to have children... and then you get lazy and your kids become the bad children that you didn't want.

I am equating the lack of free time in my life to the fact that I am not married, I am not settled down, I don't have kids, and I eat potato chips for dinner at 11pm when I get home... not to the fact that I'm in grad school, work full time, have an extremely full social life, and too many hobbies already. This is dumb and it is embarrassing to admit... so I leave you with this beautiful cup of a STRANGER'S cinnamon cashew butter.