Monthly Archives: March 2014

Call for more creativity in promo videos…

I saw this the other day and had to share. As someone who has made promotional videos, and as someone who shudders at stock photos and footage, this video made entirely from stock footage and dripping with sarcasm just tickled me. I also just spent the whole weekend at Stillmotion’s Storytelling with Heart workshop learning about how to tell awesome stories in video, so this really hit home.

Seriously, people of the marketing world, coming up with original ideas can be ridiculously fun! You are selling yourselves short. Step up!



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Filed under Inspiration and Creativity

So we ran away to Puerto Rico: Photo Highlights

People, pay attention: flights to Puerto Rico are super cheap, or at least compared to other warm destinations. As it is still many degrees below average temperatures in the northern US at the moment, I highly recommend running away. We did. It was glorious. Time seemed to stop. We hugged palm trees. We swam in 82 degree water. We high-fived turtles…well, at least we wanted to high five the turtles we saw.

I have spoken many times before about my love for travel and my love for photography, but I really love putting them together. Here is a sample of photos from our Puerto Rican jaunt:














P.S. I recently updated my photo portfolio! Check it out at!

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Apparently, we met the Shaman of Vieques…

Sea Glass Beach, Vieques PR

Sea Glass Beach, Vieques PR

We wandered through the streets of Isabel II just to see what we might see. Our ride to the other side of the island wasn’t leaving for a bit, so we figured we’d explore. We heard about a little beach at the bottom of the hill called sea glass beach–not great for swimming, but a good place for scavenging for those bits of trash-turned-treasure. The road wound down past colorful, ocean front homes framed in flowering trees and palm fronds. The pavement soon turned to sand and the view opened up to the beach. It was low tide and the smell of the exposed seaweed on the rocks filled our noses. We looked around. It was true: not much for swimming or lounging, but it had its own charm of sorts, and we set out to forage for the occasional flash of colored glass.

We walked west along the beach for a few minutes when we suddenly stopped. I saw in the distance that a man had popped up from underneath some low hanging branches by the water. He was looking right at us. Though we were still far, I could see he had sun-kissed, leathery skin, baggy clothes, and a bandanna-like fabric wrapped around his head. “Ah,” I said, “let’s leave the homeless pirate man alone.”

We walked in the other direction and collected a nice pocketful of sea glass. We turned around when we reached the end of the beach and found that the man had gotten up and was coming towards us with two long sticks in his hands. He was deeply focused on his path, carving lines in the sand and through the water with each of his sticks. We traced the squiggly lines back to where we had entered the beach. Not sure what the fellow was up to, we started to walk back, and I prepared mentally to greet the man in Spanish just in case. We ducked around a thorny, low-hanging branch that blocked our way, and we were just getting ourselves untangled we heard, in perfect English, “Excuse me. My name is Charlie. I am the Shaman of Vieques.”

Ok, so no Spanish practice today, but…Shaman?

“Hello, Charlie, nice to meet you.”

Charlie’s eyes shone brightly out of his kindly, caramel colored face. He wore a scraggly, gray beard and the bandanna on his head turned out to be an orange T-shirt. One of the long branches he held had an electrical cord loosely looped around the bottom. “I am responsible for keeping the forces of the water, the air, and the atmosphere in their proper places on the island,” he explained. “Without this work, there would be chaos, and the spirits will not be balanced, and we get things like big winds and storms and spiritual disturbances.”

I could feel my eyebrows creeping up my forehead, but I restrained them. I guessed Josh was in a similar state, because we both were smiling and saying, “Uh huh, Uh huh, Ok.”

“So I’m sorry to say this,” he continued, completely lucidly, “but unfortunately, as you walked along the beach, you upset these balances, and so now, I was wondering if I could ask you that when you leave, that you leave along the same path you came, so as to heal the the division you caused. I know you didn’t mean it, but it’s really important that you do this.” Charlie continued to explain, using the occasional physics vocab word, what was going on between the forces at work and what happens when they cross into domains where they oughtn’t be. “Ah!” he exclaimed, “it is already happening!” He jumped and pointed to some leaves that had just rustled in a slight breeze. He propped one of his stick up under the branch that had swayed. “So you see, if I can raise this up here to a higher altitude, then it can overcome the intervening atmospheric forces.”

As he spoke, I couldn’t get over how reasonable he sounded. Little of what he said made any sense, but he obviously had an extremely clear vision of what he needed to do, and he spoke to us as patiently as any decent science teacher hoping you would grasp the rationale being demonstrated. Where did he get these ideas from? What stimulated his imagination? What informed his next move? What was with the electrical cord on the stick?

He asked that we stay put for a minute while he prepared the way. We watched him walk a few paces ahead and begin drawing shapes in the sand. “I’m like a surgeon, you see. When something creates a cut, I can sew the seam and bring healing.” When he finished, we tentatively began to move forward back to the beginning of the road. “No, no!” he said, pointing to Josh who was walking a few steps behind me. “You need to walk side by side. That is how you came in. You came in together so you must leave together in the same way.”

As we rounded the corner up the hill, we turned to wave goodbye. We saw Charlie working hard, still swirling shapes in the sand. He did not look up, but just continued down the beach, out of sight.

So that happened.


Filed under Life, Travel, True Stories

Top 3 Best Things I’ve Cooked (recently)

Not much has changed.

Not much has changed.

Whenever someone asks me what my hobbies are, for some reason cooking rarely comes to mind. The funny thing is that I spend a relatively huge percentage of a given week cooking. More importantly, I love it. I suppose cooking has become so integral to how I spend my time it doesn’t feel like an add-on. Cooking both excites and relaxes me. It uses a part of my brain that other daily tasks don’t exercise. Cooking is simultaneously artistic and scientific; a creative and sensual expression that soothes, comforts, excites, and enlightens. In many ways, it is the reason I get out of bed in the morning. Even if I am not looking forward to work or errands or whatever else is going on in a given day, at least I get to be creative about what I eat.

In the spirit of food creativity, I would like to share some of the recipes I’ve used lately that really knocked it out of the park. Please note that I’m not just talking good–I’m talking close-your-eyes-breathe-deep-be-transported-to-another-time-and-place delicious. Enjoy!

1. Chocolate Lava Cake

I never thought such an elegant dessert could be so easy, let alone so mouth-wateringly magnificent. Not too sweet and not too rich, this lava cake reduced both me and Josh to a stunned, gooey silence. Seriously, though–SO EASY. If you have a set of ramekins, you will blow the minds of your next dinner party guests with a mere 20 minutes of minimal effort. I’d recommend serving it a la mode.

2. Chicken Gyros with Cucumber Salsa and Tsatsiki

I love this recipe for several reasons: first, because it is full of so many wonderfully fresh flavors including mint, parsley, lemon, cucumber, sweet tomatoes, red onion, and Greek yogurt; second, because Greek cuisine that is both delicious and not dripping with oil is really hard to find in Chicago; third, because this dish is a fabulous way to use up left-over roast chicken. In our house, we go through chicken stock pretty fast, which means we roast a lot of chickens, which further means we end up with a lot of leftover chicken meat. In the past, I used the leftover chicken in an old family recipe for Chicken a la King. While I absolutely love that family favorite, we needed a new challenge. We found it in these gyros, although challenge is not really the right word because hardly any part of this recipe was challenging (except for picking the chicken carcass…but Josh valiantly tackles that beast so I don’t have to!). Chop stuff, mix stuff, pile stuff, BAM…Gyros! A few tips: first, I recommend trying to get very sweet tomatoes. The difference, as I just discovered between the first and second time making this dish, is drastic. Tart tomatoes will work, but ease off on the parsley and add sugar or honey to taste. Second, try to use pre-oiled pita as it adds a yummy, grainy texture when slighted toasted on a frying pan or griddle. Third, don’t pile too much, though you will be tempted. 🙂

3. Salmon Cannelloni with Lemon Cream Sauce

I have a soft spot in my heart for this recipe, and not only because sinking my teeth into this tender salmon-stuffed crepe made all the muscles in my body melt into meditative contentment. This dish is special to me because it was one of the last dishes I cooked for my grandmother before she died.  I am pleased to say that it was a good choice. In her last few months of life she started losing various faculties, and as her eyes began to fail, and her hearing got worse, she had nothing enjoyable to do except eat. I remember watching her eat this dish. For what seemed like a half hour at least, she sat concentrating on each bite, murmuring yummy noises every few minutes. I knew I had done a good thing. Thank you blue ribbon recipes! I recommend serving this with a lighter vegetable, possibly with a vinegar based dressing to help cut the richness a bit. I also have made it with sauteed asparagus with just a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.

Do you have any recipes you feel like sharing? Please send them along!

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Filed under Food!, Inspiration and Creativity, Life is good and here's why, True Stories