Sunday, June 20, 2010

 Dark Art: 3 Los Angeles Ladies Fire Up The Art World
"Me, I'm a creator,
Thrill is to make it up.
The rules I break got me a blaze up on the radar.
Me, I'm a taker
Know what the stakes are."

Artist (and photo courtesy of) Camille Rose Garcia
Let's face it: art is usually dark.   Usually, dark is what makes us think.  Dark usually challenges our minds to wrangle why something is dark.  Think: Donnie Darko or Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind.  Three artists that are setting trends right now, in Los Angeles, are Natalia Fabia, Camille Rose Garcia & Tara McPherson. 

Los Angeles Artist Natalia Fabia
photo courtesy of Natalia Fabia

Los Angeles Artist Camille Rose Garcia
Photo Courtesy of Swindle:Morgan Slade

Los Angeles Artist Tara McPherson
Photo Courtesy of Tara McPherson

Art isn't heavily advertised in the cheap, mainstream media, so you really have to take the time to seek it out.  Of course, isn't it better that way?

My main source of information is my younger sister, who is an aspiring pop-artist (she keeps me up to date). 
Choice picks of what's HOT in the art world right now from artists Natalia Fabia, Tara McPherson, & Camille Rose Garcia (who did the illustrations for "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, featured in the last blog post):
Artist (and photo courtesy of) Tara McPherson
"Love Blows"

Artist (and photo courtesy of) Camille Rose Garcia

Artist (and photo courtesy of) Natalia Fabia
"Pizza Party"

Artist (and photo courtesy of) Natalia Fabia

Artist (and photo courtesy of) Tara McPherson
"How They Fly Away So Easily"

Artist (and photo courtesy of) Natalia Fabia
"Jungle Hooker"

Artist (and photo courtesy of) Tara McPherson

Artist (and photo courtesy of) Tara McPherson
"The Weight of Water, Part 2"

Artist (and photo courtesy of) Natalia Fabia
"Pink Castle In The Sky"

Artist (and photo courtesy of) Natalia Fabia
"Noelle The Hooker Clown"

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Night Read:  The classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
...and what makes this copy so fabulously out of the ordinary is that it is illustrated by Camille Rose Garcia

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Get familiar with the "Dirty Dozen" of fruits & vegetables

We all hear that it is better to eat organic fruits and vegetables, but the cost can be far from appealing.  With a suffering economy to think about, it makes one wonder if it is better to invest your money in something like an organic apple when conventional apples are sitting right next to them.  Consider this:  the non-organic apple can contain a plethora of pesticide residues.  Appetizing, right? 

TIP: If you eat non-organic produce, avoiding the "dirty dozen" can reduce pesticide exposure by 80%!

In order from the worst (containing the most pesticides) to best (containing the least amount of pesticides): (Notice that most of these items are soft-skinned.  This is something to keep in mind if you are out shopping and can't remember what the dirty dozen list is.) 
Sweet Bell Peppers
Spinach, Kale & Collard Greens
Imorted Grapes

The good news is that there also exists a "Clean 15", which contains non-organic produce that is okay to eat.

In order of best to worst:
Sweet Corn
Sweet Peas
Kiwi Fruit
Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Onions

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Can you say Mr & Mr Smith?  Bottom line: this movie was mediocre.  Ashton Kutcher plays Spencer Aimes, a former trained killer.  He meets Jen Kornfeldt when she's on vacation in Nice, France with her parents (he's still a trained killer at the time, working there). By the way, the backdrop of Nice was a BEAUTIFUL addition to their love tale.  They fall in love, get married, the typical movie routine. Yada, yada, yawn. Ashton Kutcher has a bland personality in this movie and rarely makes you laugh.  A quick sidenote:  I saw this movie with a friend who, before seeing this movie, claimed that Ashton Kutcher has never played a serious role.  Of course, after offering The Butterfly Effect to Ashton's defense, my friend changed his mind to "every movie except The Butterfly Effect".  Well, we can add Killers to the list! On a similar note, Heigl attempts to crack jokes throughout the movie but they are, well, lame.  We know she can play the part in a romantic comedy (for example, in Knocked Up), so where was her charm in this movie? 

Usher, yes, Usher makes a cameo appearance as a K-Mart sales clerk.  He offers advice to the couple as to which pregnancy test to choose.  A bit odd, but a nice surprise in the middle of non-stop chasing scenes.  This makes me wonder if Usher & Ashton are real-life buds, since the cameo was so freaking random!

Killers was not bad; I'd probably RedBox it when it comes out on DVD, but the storyline was rushed.  Maybe I am pretentious when it comes to storylines, but there was something wrong with the flow of events.  Too much, all at once. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Girl on the Go: Green Edition
With the oil crisis in the Gulf of Mexico right now, it's time to take a few steps to ensure the health of our entire ecosystem. 

I recently told a friend that I was in dire need of a beach vacation, very soon. His response was to ask me where an appropriate beach would be, since they would soon all be covered in oil. At first glance, I was taken back by this extreme pessimism. However, it is very important to look at the oil disaster that is going on in the oceans right now as a major wake up call. Studies are showing that 1.7 million gallons of oil leaked into the ocean PER DAY in the gulf of Mexico up until June 3. 

According to scientists, life on other planets is justified to be non-existent due to the fact that life is supported by water. If there is no water on other planets, life cannot exist. With the recent oil spills, everyone is taking notice to what unclean water will do to human life.

"Going green" has become sort of a fad in the recent years, but it is has been important to do our part to protect the ecosystem.  After all, it is the only one that we have.  Now, more than ever, it's time to realize that if everyone does something, even something small, it will have an impact. 

One of the very first things that comes to mind when I think of a “green” lifestyle, with the current events and such, is clean water. Water, particularly clean water, is vital to our health and human life itself. What are some steps that we, as a proactive environment, can take to ensure that our water will be clean for us and our future generations? What are some things we can do for the oil situations right now?

Pollution goes farther than just the side of the highway. It affects every single part of the Earth and the Earth’s atmosphere. When we are healthy, breathing clean air, we are able to digest nutrients more efficiently. Water, of course, is a staple ingredient for all cooking. Think about it: would we be able to do something as simple as wash romaine lettuce for a salad we are making if we did not have access to clean water. It is already recommended to filter your tap water, but what if it gets to the point of needing to do more than buy a Brita water filter?

I recently told a friend that I was in dire need of a beach vacation, very soon. His response was to ask me where an appropriate beach would be, since they would soon all be covered in oil. At first glance, I was taken back by this extreme pessimism. However, it is very important to look at these oil spills as a major wake up call.  What if we lose our access to clean water?  Human life would suffer more than we could ever imagine.

Yes! Magazine gives a list of actions we should take to mend this crisis, one of the most obvious to boycott BP.  BP should be charged for the full cleanup of the beaches, water & animal/sea life care and cleaning.  BP (and other oil companies like Shell) should be boycotted because they are causing direct environmental damage, according to Yes!. 

Ocean Conservancy has come up with a National Ocean Policy petition to send to President Obama to ask that he protects the health of the oceans so another crisis such as this one does not happen again.  "A suspension of offshore drilling in the Arctic is a good first step, but it's not enough: We need a national ocean policy that prioritizes ecosystem health and protects, maintains, and restores our ocean."- Ocean Conservancy

What are some other things we can do for the Earth while we're at it?

Eat from the Earth. Grow your own gardens. Make a compost pile. If we look closely at the cycle of a plant, we can see that it recycles itself. It is important to stress that when a person eats from the Earth, this is the simplest form of recycling, because things like fruits and vegetables have their own recycling process.

Continue to RECYCLE.

There are products on the market that allow us to take proactive steps toward our environment. Preserve makes a toothbrush that can actually be mailed back to the company after its usage is over. This toothbrush is made from recycled yogurt cups. To make it even more simple, the postage is already taken care of! Think about how many toothbrushes we go through. All of that plastic is sitting in a landfill when it can easily be recycled! Recycling is a term that has been drilled into our heads, but it is important to remember that it is very beneficial to the Earth!  Remember to recycle paper to save trees!  We've heard it before but it does matter.

Preserve's slogan is "Nothing Wasted.  Everything Gained."

Turn off a few things.

The United States uses nearly $1 million worth of energy every single minute. Do your part: turn a few things off! Read a book instead of watching TV.

Girl On The Go Gets Gluten-Free

In the Western world, aside from sugar, gluten is the second most prevalent ingredient found in the food available to us. It’s in almost everything! What is a Gluten Free diet and who is it good for? A few years ago, The View’s Elizabeth Hasselbeck wrote a book about her Gluten free lifestyle, titled “The G-Free Diet: A Gluten Free Survival Guide”. She suffers from Celiac disease and has been living on a Gluten Free diet for ten years.

A gluten free diet is only recommended for people with Celiac Disease, people with allergies to Gluten and peoplw with sensitivities to Gluten. However, skipping out on excess gluten can be good for anyone. In Hasselbeck’s “The-G Free Diet”, she mentions that even people who aren’t suffering from Celiac Disease can benefit from her Gluten Free diet suggestions because it can be energizing.

However, 1 in 133 people suffer from Celiac Disease. 97% of people who suffer from Celiac Disease do not know it. This is quite an alarming statistic! How would you know if you had Celiac Disease? Well, it affects your digestive health. It is an autoimmune disorder triggered when a person eats gluten. If you find yourself becoming sick to the stomach quite frequently, meaning most of what you eat makes you sick in some way, it might be time to talk to your doctor. Celiac Disease can often be misdiagnosed through blood tests alone, so if you suspect that you have it, you should ask your doctor to test you specifically for Celiac Disease. Even Elizabeth Hasselbeck mentions in her book that doctors misdiagnosed her with IBS for many years. She had to self-diagnose herself before a doctor finally confirmed her suspicions. Remember, 97 % of people who have Celiac Disease do not know they have it.

If you do not suffer from Celiac Disease, it is highly recommended for you to NOT eliminate gluten COMPLETELY out of your diet. However, sensitivities to gluten can still exist and this can be just as irritating to your digestive health. Also, as mentioned earlier, including a few Gluten Free items in your diet can just be healthy for someone with no sensitivity at all to gluten, as it can be a great way to gain energy. Let me clarify, however, that eliminating gluten completely from your diet (if you have no sensitivities to gluten) should be discussed with your doctor first. A person who eats a Gluten-free diet for health reasons cannot eat any form of gluten because it is unknown how much it will take to upset their body and trigger this autoimmune disorder.

A Gluten sensitivity is also worth looking into if you have acne that never seems to go away, no matter how healthy you eat!  Since gluten can affect the digestive health of your intenstines, a person with a sensitivity will not be able to get rid of all of the toxins that would normally vacate through the digestive track. 

Let’s talk about what gluten is for a moment. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other grains, like rye, barley and oats. It is used as a thickener and binder in many other foods, like soups.

Now, let’s talk about a Gluten Free diet. Since Gluten is found in almost everything, shopping for Gluten free products can be tricky. However, over the past few years, the diet has gained a lot of popularity, which was beneficial to making Gluten free items easier to recognize. Now, almost all items will be labeled whether or not Gluten is an ingredient. Even items such as bottles of water are labeled. A person is able to eat every type of food they want, even foods like lasagna, as long as they replace certain ingredients with a gluten-free product. Everything is available, however, even gluten-free beers.

Grocery stores such as Market District offer Gluten Free sections, sometimes entire aisles. You can find items like Gluten Free Pancake Mix, Gluten Free Chocolate Sandwich Cookies , Gluten Free bread and wraps.

At Whole Foods, all Gluten Free bakery items have a giant sticker on the package that announces so. Likewise, all vegan bakery items are labeled with the same sticker system. In Pittsburgh, there is a Gluten Free Bakery, Gluuteny, filled with an assortment of yummy baked goods. I stopped in there to try out their cookies and cupcakes (in the name of research) and I can honestly say that they tasted just as delish as anything I’ve had before. Maybe even better. Gluten free cupcakes taste more fluffy, more lighter and the cake of the cupcake just tastes more, well, bouncy. Some cupcakes I’ve had are too moist, which makes them heavy, and it takes away from the taste. However, other products where a heaviness would be appreciated, like pastas, do not taste so great. I made gluten free pasta at home and the pasta almost melted into the water. However, the taste was still very similar to regular pasta.

Remember, there are still a lot of major food groups that you can eat if you choose to eat Gluten Free, all of which are full of nutrition. You can still eat fruits and vegetables, meat and rice products. If you are planning to bake gluten free, Bob’s Red Mill offers a great assortment of rice and other gluten-free flours. Whole Foods and Market Districts (located in Pittsburgh) offer most of the Bob’s Red Mill line. However, if you are in Pittsburgh and looking for Gluten-free baked goods, I suggest skipping Market District, unless you are only searching for raw ingredients to bake with. Whole Foods Bakery is more equipped for Gluten-free shoppers, as well as Gluuteny Bakery in Squirrel Hill.

TIP: Always read labels of anything you buy.  This can help you see what is Gluten-free if it is not labeled and it is also a great activity to practice when buying anything.  One of the best ways to stay healthy is to know what you are putting into your body when you eat processed foods. 
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