Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July's Five Fabulous Finds

Chooze Shoes
A few weeks ago we were wandering around REI.  My attention was drawn to a rack of what turned out to be brightly colored children’s shoes.  These canvas shoes came in lots of multi-colored patterns.  As I looked more closely, I realized that the right and left shoes did not absolutely match each other in pattern; they complimented one another - very nicely.  I stood there looking through all of the choices secretly wishing that they came in adult sizes.  While enjoying the kaleidoscope of colors before me,  I remembered a comment by composer Igor Stravinsky when he said, “To be perfectly symmetrical is to be perfectly dead.”  Who is it that decided that our shoes had to match each other anyway?

When I got home I decided to google Chooze Shoes just to see what they were all about.  The company’s mission is to create shoes that allow children to embrace and celebrate their uniqueness and their differences.  They also strive to make this world we share a better place for all of us.  Part of the Chooze Shoes mission is to teach children about the importance of caring for our environment.  The shoes are made from vegan friendly materials and they come in “art boxes” rather than shoe boxes.  These boxes are constructed from recycled materials and they provide the shoe recipients the opportunity to color their own box.  At the end of each year Chooze Shoes also invest its profits in various anti-poverty programs.
And best of all, they do come in adult sizes!  REI does not carry them but they can be ordered online here.
I have not ordered any yet because I can’t decide which ones I want.
“To live is to choose.  But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to go there.”  - Kofi Annan
Rick Guidotti

I have been reading about Rick Guidotti and his organization Positive Exposure for several years.  Rick began his career as a New York fashion photographer, taking glamorous photos of top models for the top fashion magazines all over the world.  One day after finishing one of these shoots he was walking down the street in New York City where he spotted a young girl with albinism waiting for the bus.  He says that he was instantly struck with her beauty, a different beauty from the models he regularly photographed but none the less beautiful.  He wanted to take her picture.  It didn’t work out that day, but Rick perservered.  He has now turned the focus of his career as a photographer to capturing images of people with all kinds of genetic differences from all over the world.  His work is absolutely amazing.  
Not only is his work amazing, but he too is an amazing person.  I was blessed to meet him and have his undivided attention for a conversation while we were at the NOAH conference.  We talked about albinism, photography, cameras, Texas, and probably a few other things that I now can’t remember.  For me, talking to him gave me the same thrill that a young athlete gets from meeting his or her favorite superstar.  He even offered to put a link to my blog on his Facebook page.  I have not taken him up on that offer though I do believe he was absolutely serious iwhen he made it.
Here is a link to Rick giving a TED lecture.  The fifteen minutes it takes to watch this are time well spent, I promise.  You can also read more about him and Positive Exposure on their website.  
Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story
Neither Weber nor I are big movie buffs, but we both enjoy a good movie every now and then.  Though we toy around often with going to the theater to see a current movie, that has not happened yet this summer.  On a hot Sunday afternoon not too long ago, we had intentions of going to see The Exotic Marigold Hotel at the theater.  As it got later in the day and the thermometer outside rose above a hundred degrees, we ditched the plans for our excursion to the theater and opted to stay home and instead watch something on Netflix.
Because we are not movie buffs, we are often at a loss for what there is to watch much less what we most likely would enjoy watching.  In the case of this hot summer afternoon, we let Netflix make recommendations based on movies we had watched previously, settling on Gifted Hands:The Ben Carson Story, one that we had not ever heard of.
I’m not going to give the story away.  Suffice it to say that this movie based on the true life story of Dr. Ben Carson, played by Cuba Gooding, is a must see for every student, teacher, parent, brother, sister, preacher, professor, doctor, and anyone else that I may have left out.  In my humble opinion, everyone should see this movie!
If you don’t have Netflix, call me; you can come watch it at my house.  I will gladly watch it again and again and again . . .
Though I love to cook, preparing hot meals during the summer heat loses much of its appeal.  Though from a taste perspective I could live on a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, my body gets kind of cranky when it doesn’t get enough protein.  And protein is usually what needs to be cooked.  
Enter the bean.  I am a fan of almost any kind of bean.  Yes, they do need to be cooked, but you get more bang for your buck when you cook beans than when you cook meat.  Lately I have been cooking a pound or sometimes more of beans and freezing the cooked bean in containers comparable to the 15.8 ounce cans of beans sold at the grocery store.  I don’t season them at all at this point.  I just cook them; they are then ready to be used just like canned beans in any recipe.
Hummus has become a staple of our summer diet. It is cold, tastes great and can be eaten on pita or crackers or used as a dip with freshly cut vegetables.  Though you can buy hummus already made, I always make my own.  I’ll share my secret here - I use great northern beans rather than the traditional garbanzo beans found in “authentic” hummus.  
If you are a fan of hummus or would like to try it for the first time, here is my basic recipe.  I’ll have to confess that I don’t always measure so mine does not come out exactly the same each time, but it is always pretty darn good.
2 cans great northern beans, drained
1/2 C tahini
8-10 cloves of garlic
1/4 C lemon juice
6 Tbs. Olive oil
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • some recipes call for coriander.  I usually don’t use it.
Place the garlic cloves in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Add the rest of the ingredients and process until you have a creamy texture.  You can add water a little at a time if your hummus is too thick.
All of the seasoning can be adjusted to suit your personal taste.  Experiment.  And, enjoy!
Stella Artois
I am a fairly wimpy drinker and certainly not a beer connoisseur.  I just know what I like and know what I don’t.  Most of the time I can’t give you an intelligent reason for why I like or don’t like a particular beer.  I like Stella Artois.
It is a Belgian light lager distributed by Anheuser Busch.  Though I believe it was originally created to be a seasonal beer for the Christmas season, it is now available all year long.  It’s light, less than strong flavor and aroma make it a good choice for a hot summer evening.  It might even taste pretty good with a little hummus and pita bread.
Remember that I said that I am a wimpy drinker . . .

Visual Cents No. 78

"Summer's Harshness"