Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Give Your Green Thumb a Go

Until a couple of weeks ago I had never planted anything- nothing. I love flowers, herbs, fruits, vegetables, legumes; pretty much anything that grows from the ground. This year I decided that instead of just smelling and consuming plants and vegetables I should try growing something too.

I have to say that it wasn't easy; mainly because I didn't know what I was doing! I got some very basic information from the store where I bought my plants from and decided to dig up some dirt and plop the plants in. I'm giving the most basic tips here. If you are looking for more professional results then please consult a professional :) Basically this is what you need to do:

- Get a pair of gloves, a trowel, and the herbs/plants flowers you want.
- Also get some potting soil. I got Miracle Grow Moisture Control.
- You will also need mulch. Apparently, herbs and annual plants (plants that usually have a one year life- they are cheaper but you would have to replant every year) need mulch around them.
- Then get digging!
- You don't need to have a backyard to do it, you can plant them in pots and put them in your terrace/balcony or even a windowsill.

I have some space to work with so in my front yard I put hydrangeas, some annuals and some knock out roses. In the backyard I've planted, mint, rosemary, dill, tomatoes, strawberry, cilantro and a pineapple (the pineapple is in a pot for now.)

So far the annuals have bloomed beautifully. The knock out roses are expected to bloom in two weeks. The herbs seem to be doing well too. BUT my hydrangeas and the dill plant are on the verge of dying...I'm not sure why. I think I might have over watered the hydrangeas...The dill plant's death is a mystery because it sat between the mint and rosemary plant and both of them seem to be thriving. Would any of you know what happened?

Anyway, the point is that I gave it shot. And you should try it too. Why, you ask? Here are some good reasons: 

- It's a satisfying feeling to grow and nurture something. Even though I have a toddler, it was still a different kind of satisfaction to nurture a plant.
- It brings you close to nature; you will marvel at nature's beauty and its bounties.
- It can turn into a healthy habit/hobby. Gardening is hard work so it's good for your body. You can do it just for fun or you can take it as far as you like- there's a lot to learn about plants and how to take care of them.
- You might just start cultivating enough produce to feed the family or to share with friends/neighbors.
- For those looking to tan, working in the yard is a good idea (but please do wear some sunscreen.) For those who are not, wear a hat and, of course, higher SPF sunscreen.
- There's really no down side to it. None that I can think of.

From the 20 plus plants I planted only two didn't do well and I think that's not so bad. I'll write another post updating you with my plants' developments :) If you are an expert gardner then please share some tips here.

Herbs in the backyard

What I hope my yard will look like one day:)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

You spin me right round baby....

Most of us hate the gym. I did too and it is still hard to motivate myself to go when I've missed several days in a row. But the key to gym success is finding what you enjoy doing. I love boot camp and spin class. I'll tell you a few things about spin class later in the post.

Let me tell you how I motivate myself. It may seem a little masochistic but I like really difficult workouts; I will use a Seinfeld quote about roller coasters to explain how I like my workouts, "Figure out what will kill me and then back it off a little bit :) " You see, when I am done with a hard workout I feel a sense of accomplishment; it's a power trip, a show of my strength and a sign of achievement. All of those factors make me feel fabulous (as if the endorphins were not enough.)

You may not enjoy anything that requires even the lift of a finger, and that's fine, I guess, for you. But what about those that love you and depend on you to be healthy, happy and alive?
- Yes, exercising will make you happy, its a scientific fact.  Read about it here.
- We all know why it's good for the body.
- A New York Times article says it's great for the brain too.

All these factors combined will improve the quality and, may I say, quantity of your life. So even if you don't care enough about yourself, do it for those who care about you.

If you enjoyed riding a bike as a kid then give spin class a shot. It's easy on the knees and you can adjust the levels according to your endurance. Plus you do it sitting down, for God's sake, how hard can it be ;) Actually, it can be a little tough, I'm not going to lie to you, but definitely worth a try.

Here's how to spin correctly:
-Adjust your bike according to your height (you can always ask the instructor to help you.)
Stand next to the bike, your seat should be aligned as high as your hip bone. This is important because you don't want to hurt your knees, which you can do overtime if you sit at the wrong height.
- The seat can also be adjusted horizontally to bring it forward or backwards. I keep mine between 4 and 5 and I'm 5ft 5in.
- The handle bar can be high or low. But you don't want it to be either of the two extremes. I keep mine right on top of 6. Keeping the handle high can make it a little easier to work out because your chest is open which makes it easier to breath. You can lower it overtime and continue to ride at a level that is most comfortable for you.
- Ride with you lower body. Push through your abs, hips and thighs. Keep your arms and shoulders relaxed.
-Pedal with your heels, not your toes.
- Try to make full circles.
- Think of the bike gears ranging from level of 1-10. The lightest being 1 and the hardest being 10.
Start pedaling at level one for a minute, then slowly add gear.
- Take your water bottle and stay hydrated.

It's best to go to a class offered at your local gym where the instructor is available to answer your questions and guide you through the class.

You can buy spins shoes which are highly recommended by instructors but I still use my Nike Free Run 2 sneakers for all my workouts and they work just fine.

Now spin that wheel! Don't give up. You can do it!

Pretend you are racing for your college, for your county, for your country, go for the gold!! Push hard. You can't give up now, people are depending on you! Oh you are SO close to the finish line! :)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

What went wrong with the Jodi Arias trial...

HLN is what went wrong with the Jodi Arias trial. The murder and the lies shocked the nation, including myself, however, I was more shocked my the  outrageous treatment of the case by HLN. They left no stone unturned in shaming Jodi Arias, but really shamed themselves in the process. A national TV channel needs to be more responsible in what they present to the public; they should stick to the facts and keep their sensationalized opinions to themselves.

Let me make a few things abundantly clear:
- I am not a Jodi Arias supporter.
- There is proof that she is a liar and a murderer and I agree with that.
- She deserves to be brought to justice for what she did to Travis Alexander.
- I hope I never get to know anyone like her.

What I do support is a fair trial; both in the eyes of the law and the public. I am not going to be the judge and jury of the case; both of them already exist and I will let them do their job fairly, without tainting their perspective. What good will it bring to anyone by defaming Arias further? One will only give her more of the attention that she does not deserve.

HLN really out did themselves this time. If the jury is anything like Nancy Grace then we just wasted time, resources and tax payers money. I'm sure if Grace could, she would have had Arias injected with the lethal dose as soon as she was arrested. Grace is so adamant about what she thinks is right that she turns a deaf ear to everything else. I like the concept of Grace's show but she can get so worked up that her anger often clouds her judgement.

For example, apparently Arias said "bullshit" during Juan Martinez's closing argument; do you blame her? She is on trial for her life. Let me also point out that no one really heard her. She said it under her breath and the camera captured it. Grace, decided to make a display of it on her show by saying that this is the kind of regard Arias has for the courtroom. But what about Grace's own action? In pointing out Arias irreverence Grace said the words "bullshit" on national television, loud and clear - when did this become ok? Where was Grace's reverence for the public? This was the second time I have heard "bullshit"on HLN (first time a guest said it in Jane Velez-Mitchell's show a few weeks ago.)

Now let me talk about Vinnie Politan on HLN "After Dark." It seems like Politan has made it his full-time job to prove Arias guilty. But that doesn't bother me - what bothers me is turning that show as a place of entertainment, of cracking jokes (when there is nothing funny about the case), and making it a safe place to sneer at Arias. I was horrified to see strawberry frappuccino's being served on HLN After Dark and people drinking and chatting away like it was cocktail hour! Those who have been following the case will know that Arias mentioned at some point that she bought a strawberry frappuccino from Starbucks (and, of course, now we know that HLN will find anything to make fun of and do it rather thoughtlessly.)

There was also a point where the hosts and their guest started to make a "house of cards" because Prosecutor Juan Martinez mentioned it in his closing argument. Even Judge Hatchett was part of this activity too - Come on, you are a judge, show some class!

The nastiness has been going on since the beginning of the trial. HLN even went on to discuss how Arias wore her hair in court one day, they made a parody of Arias doing certain antics (the details of that ridiculous venture escape me, thankfully), they even discussed Defense Attorney Nurmi's clothing at one point... How is any of that relevant to the case or to Arias being a murderer? It makes everyone look like bullies. Is this the message HLN wants to give the nation?

What's really sad about all this and forced me to write something about HLN's coverage is that hosts of these shows are educated, well qualified individuals who should understand that they have some responsibilities towards the public. Hate Arias all you want but don't turn it into a fiesta for the sake of ratings and derate your credibility.

This is a sad and horrifying situation. One person is already dead, brutally murdered, and the second is on a trial for her life. Yes, justice will be done if she is convicted but that still doesn't make it a win-win situation for anyone; Travis Alexander will never come back and Jodi Arias's family will mourn her loss (even if the rest of us hate her.)

Usually I end my blog posts with a recipe of a food connected to the mood of the post but nothing will make HLN's coverage tasteful.  

Friday, May 3, 2013

Do it while you can...

Call your cousin, meet up with a friend and tell your family you love them while they (and you) are still around. Time is tricky simply because we don't have any control over it; we don't know how little or how much time we will get with someone - will it be the last time you will see them? Will you get to eat your favorite meal again? Will you get to hug your favorite person again? No one can tell you for sure so you best get to it right away.

I got a rude shock on Wednesday. An unexpected and unpleasant news which made me sad, guilty and regretful. In retrospect, I am thankful for it because sometimes one needs a harsh dose of reality for things to get into perspective. I reflected, asked for forgiveness and decided to do something to salvage the situation (whatever is left of it.) The details of the news are sad and I don't want to share them because the idea of this post is not to make you sad; the idea is to share my lesson with you so that you can skip the regret and utilize your time in a way that you can feel good about later. Try these:

- When someone makes time for you, you should return the favor. Everyone is busy, you are not the only one. The person obviously values you enough to spend time with you and it wouldn't kill you to do the same - even if you do it once.

- Show appreciation; whether its by smiling or saying thank you, by praising someone or by giving a small gift. 

- A call just to say hello, and not when you have an agenda, is probably one of the best gestures. I know a lot of people prefer email/facebook/twitter/text rather than the old fashioned phone call but the fact that you will set aside a time to make that call and speak to that person with your undivided attention makes the gesture so much more meaningful. It's ok if you get voicemail, you made the effort. If they call back, try and carve out time for a conversation. You won't regret it.

I am not suggesting you spend your life bonding with everyone that crosses your path; I'm recommending that you do it for people who are dear to you (and maybe even an old acquaintance who just happens to be a very nice and genuine person- people like them deserve your time.)

And, of course, make time for what you love. Not just the people but the things you love too. Remember, if you are happy you will radiate happiness so start with yourself. May I suggest eating your favorite food and really enjoying it :) Here are a few recipes of most commonly loved foods in the East and the West. Eat while you can...:)

Sindhi Biryani       

Fried chicken and biscuits

Pad Thai