Thursday, December 30, 2010

Health and why 2011=Green Smoothies

I think I've always been rather proactive with my health: I've exercised regularly for over half my life and I eat a balanced diet.

Now that I'm entering the middle years of my life, I'm discovering that I have to take an even more proactive part of my health because it's beginning to take more effort to maintain the state of normalcy. In other words, being healthy and energetic has been my default mode. Now that I'm getting a little older, it takes a bit more work to maintain my default mode.

About a year and a half ago I began taking probiotic supplements. It made me feel good, and at the same time I eliminated sugar and wheat from my diet. I quickly lost about 7 pounds, but I have gone back to my old diet, which is largely rice based, thanks to my Thai husband and his wonderful food.

During a period of a few months earlier this year, I stopped my probiotics as well. I had simply run out of my supply and did not buy more, but was planning to. Then my body went crazy with candida yeast and I immediately went back on my probiotics and this month, the first month in five, I am back to normal.

The day before yesterday my dear friend Caroline gave me a magazine with an article on green smoothies and how the leafy greens take out excess candida in the body. Music to my ears! So I went out and bought all the ingredients for a green smoothie, PLUS a blender since my food processor isn't going to cut it this time. The blender recommended by smoothie connoisseurs costs over $300, but that's not in my budget at the moment.

During my green smoothie research, I came across Green Smoothie Girl as well as Green Smoothies Blog, both of which offer really good information on these healthful drinks.

So this is my new year's resolution: 2011 is going to be all about the green smoothie. I'll be making variations of it with more fruit to give to Aidan and Golf is going to get some, too, whether he likes it or not.

The recipe I made yesterday from the magazine has 2 cupfuls of spinach (handful), 2 cupfuls of cucumbers, ginger root, lemon and lime juices, 2 apples and 1 bunch of parsley. It was OK. I don't have to hold my nose or anything, but I am looking forward to trying different recipes. My cheapie blender does pretty good, but doesn't blend it quite as smooth as I like. But it will do until I can justify $300 for a good one!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas 2010

The Praphantanathorn family left for my parents' house in Oroville on the 22nd and we stayed through til Monday the 27th. We knew lots of people would be on the road on Sunday the 26th, so we hunkered down one more day.

Festivities this year were lots of fun. Aidan got to make gingerbread cookies and sugar cookies, which we decorated afterward.

My sister, Anna, his aunt, came on Christmas Eve and she brought her dog Jasper. He's such a fun dog and Aidan loved him. We all got to play with Jasper and since we can't have pets where we live, it was really nice to get a good dose of dog while we were out there in the country.

Once my sister arrived, though, I fell ill. I was so out of it, I kept on calling Anna my middle sister's name, Alise. It was maddening and I think Anna was getting a bit miffed. I don't blame her, and fortunately, the next day I was starting to feel better and my mistakes vanished.

Then Golf got my sickness. He was a day behind me! That night Aidan had a minor fever too, so we all got to be sickos.

All of us just relaxed and watched a lot of television, which I never do here. Honestly. I never watch TV! I never even opened my laptop when I was there. I checked email and some of my affiliate and advertising earnings, but that was it. I was in full recuperation mode and now that I'm back I feel so refreshed.

Aidan made out with loads of gifts this year. For Christmas 2010 Aidan got:
  1. Iron Man mask - the fancy kind that opens from the front and has lights in the eyes and sounds from the movie from Golf and me
  2. Iron Man action figure in a car from his friend Joshua
  3. Toy Story glow board drawing toy from his Aunt Anna
  4. Blast Off Buzz Lightyear action figure from his Aunt Anna (must do a review on this one!)
  5. Green recorder from his Grandmother
  6. Spider rain boots from his Grandmother
  7. 3 new pairs of pants, one shirt and one pair of shoes from both Grandparents
  8. Construction LEGO vehicles from some very kind neighbors Rosanna and Laura

This boy did very well and so a big Thank You to friends and family!

Now we shall see if Aidan can stay up til midnight this Friday for New Year's Eve. Ha! :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Duran Duran New Single

I just about worshipped these guys when I was in junior high and high school. Ever since Duran Duran broke up after 7 and the Ragged Tiger, they have, of course, never been the same.

As the years passed, Duran Duran got back together - 3 of them anyway - and they'd come out with a chart topper, and it was a catchy tune, but the entire album was a bit weak. I'd always end up disappointed overall.

A few years ago, all five members got back together, but Andy, the guitarist, didn't stick around, but Roger is back with Simon, Nick and John and four is always better than three.

Recently, Duran Duran have put out a new single called "All You Need is Now" and I really like it! Aside from the rather annoying sounding beginning, it has a wonderful sound and the chorous is very enjoyable. Since Duran Duran and their original fans (like me) from the 1980s are now into middle age, we reminisce about our youth, and that's what this song is about and it's relatable.

The guys, of course, are still rockin' their good looks. Simon's beard actually is nice. Would have been TOTALLY icky in his young, new romantic years. Here's their new video, All You Need is Now...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lightning McQueen Bike Review

My son had been bugging me to get him a Lightning McQueen bike for his birthday last May and so his grandparents bought it for him. This bike wasn't used excessively, maybe - MAYBE once a week. He sometimes threw it to the ground, as children become focused on something else they literally drop what they're doing to go look.

So if you're considering getting a Lightning McQueen bike for your child, please see my complete Lightning McQueen Bike review and if you change your mind about the bike, there are lots of Disney Cars movie toys to get as gifts instead.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Drivers Turning Right Don't Look Right

This has been on my mind for a long time now and I finally want to write about it. When I'm a pedestrian walking on a sidewalk opposite of oncoming traffic, the drivers who pull out from a side street looking to turn right almost NEVER look to their right to see me coming! They slow down and only look left then pull right on out!

When I would have Aidan in the stroller with me, I'd just stop and wait for the morons to pass, or if they were coming down the street as I'd cross, I'd slow way down and make eye contact before proceeding.

There was one time that both my husband and my child were with me and we were just about to step from a curb when an idiot barreled through without looking even once!

I'm signed up for Google news alerts for a certain keyword I'm interested in reading more about and every day there is news from all over the country about mothers and their children getting hit by these drivers and I bet you that most of these accidents are from pedestrians walking against traffic on the sidewalk with stupid drivers who don't look right before turning right.

Please don't be a stupid driver: LOOK RIGHT before turning right.

Have you been mowed down (or almost) as a pedestrian?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Highly Intellingent Talks

I found some excellent speeches on iTunes that I've downloaded onto my iPod, simply captivated and actually LEARNING something as I prepare dinner every night.

They're talks given by The Cato Institute. The Cato Institute is a public policy research organization — a think tank — dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace. Its scholars and analysts conduct independent, nonpartisan research on a wide range of policy issues.

The first talk I found was by a lawyer from the Pacific Legal Foundation named Timothy Sandefur who wrote a book called The Right to Earn A Living: Economic Freedom And The Law. This book is about all the licensing and fees that the government imposes on business owners and entrepreneurs who simply want to earn an honest living. He discusses laws that are passed that makes a new moving company, for example, seek permission from its competitors before being allowed to operate. Taxi cab regulations are also heavily regulated. You have to have a license to be a FLORIST for crying out loud. Anyway, the talk was VERY good, and I'd like to get his book at some point.

I also listened to this speech on Cato on how public employee unions are going to sink this ship that is our country:
Although private sector unions have been in decline for decades, public sector unions have been on the rise. Both private and public unions have undue political influence and use that power to seek privileges at the expense of consumers and taxpayers. Are unions good for America?
You can find this speech here and download the audio. The first and third speakers are fascinating and frightening all at once.

Here is the list of all of Cato's podcasts. They have speakers from all over the world talking on a huge variety of topics. I feel smarter everyday that I listen! :)

Monday, November 08, 2010

My Experience at the Pixar Exhibition

Ever since the Oakland Museum announced that it was hosting an exhibition of Pixar's 25 Years of Animation, I knew I had to go. I mean I have a Pixar movies site, for goodness sake, I must!

I'm not a person who feels I have to be first at everything, so this exhibition has been going on for three months already and in addition, the first Sunday of every month provides free admission. Last month I couldn't go, so this month I decided I must go and my friend Caroline joined me!

However, come Sunday morning, it was heavily pouring rain outside and I thought - well, there probably won't be that many people waiting in line today since it's raining so hard.

We got into Oakland at 10:15 and the museum didn't open til 11 and there were already quite a crowd lined up, huddled under their umbrellas 45 minutes early. So I hopped out of the car to wait in line while Caroline parked her car.

Ugh, it was so wet n cold waiting all that time and the folks ahead of us were a group a three with one tiny umbrella to share. Needless to say they were drenched by the time the gate opened. I was impressed at the loyalty of all these people to come see the exhibition. I would guesstimate that close to 1,000 people showed up!

Anyway, on to the awesome Pixar exhibition. It was so cool to see the storyboards and conceptual drawings. I found some of the collage pieces for The Incredibles to be really well done. Many of the acrylic and pastel paintings are beautiful pieces on their own and would look stunning on the wall as a unique piece of art.

There were 3-D models of all the characters from each Pixar film showcased in the middle of each room and in one room, there were a half dozen glass and wire sculptures of the different plants on the tepui plateaus of South America that were studies for Up. Absolutely GORGEOUS.

One of the highlights was something called a Zoetrope. It's like a small merry-go-round where different Toy Story characters are in various animated poses. The Zoetrope spins around faster and faster, the lights go dark in the room, then strobe lights flicker on the spinning Zoetrope and the figures come to life. There are sound effects to it, making it all the more real. It was VERY cool!

Another part of the exhibit I really enjoyed was seeing color studies for the scope of the film. I saw several - Up and WALL-E. The entire movie is made up in a series of panels that convey the mood of the film through the color schemes. They were simple pictures, but put all together it had lots of impact and you could see the whole film on one section of wall.

And of course, the conceptual art was wonderful. Many pieces were digitally created and they look just like colored pencil or conte crayon. Other pieces had the precise lines of an architect. The talent of the artists at Pixar are extraordinary!

So that was my experience of the Pixar exhibit at the Oakland Museum. I encourage you to go too, especially if you live in the Bay Area - Pixar is your neighbor and probably the premiere animation studio in the world.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Special Day Today

Yeah yeah, it's election day and that's what everyone on the news stations will be talking about all day long.

But I'm excited about the DVD/BluRay release of Toy Story 3! I should be getting my copy in the mail either today or tomorrow. Unfortunately, we don't yet have a BluRay player, so we only got the DVD copy, which is got lots of exciting special features anyway.

I also want to remind everyone that my contest to win your own copy of the Toy Story 3 BluRay/DVD combo pack ends today! It's been a week of fun with lots of good quality entries, and I'll be sending off the top 5 entries over to my guest judge over at PixarTalk to make the final decision. This announcement will be made on November 5th.

You, my friends, have until 9:00 PM PST tonight enter your movie review for your chance to win.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat

Tonight was the first time we took Aidan out for trick-or-treating. It was about 7:15 when I saw and heard lots of commotion going on outside and remembered that kids were going door to door at about this time. So I pulled Golf aside and asked what he thought about taking Aidan out for the first time in his life. He agreed with me, so off we went.

This was Golf's first time out with trick-or-treaters, too. Being from Thailand and coming to America as an adult, he never got this experience as a kid, and so of course, he wouldn't know that we should take Aidan out without my prompting him to. So it was a fun night for both guys.

Aidan's five now, and yes he could have gone in earlier years, but I simply didn't want him having access to so much candy! I thought this year is a good year to start and the neighborhood we live in is safe. In just a few blocks he got lots of candy - enough to last him for months with the way Mama is going to regulate his treat intake. LOL!

He wore his Ultraman costume that Golf bought him in Thailand two years ago. It's getting way too small for him, but Aidan just doesn't want to give it up yet, he loves it so much.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

CONTEST - Win the Toy Story 3 BluRay/DVD Combo

I'm sure I'm like all of you and am really excited about the release of Toy Story 3 out on Blu-Ray and DVD on November 2nd.

Well, you have an opportunity to win a copy!

From now until November 2, come to The Leaping Lamp and write your own favorite Pixar movie review for a chance to win.

Write a review for one movie or write a review for each Pixar film to increase your odds of winning.

Details and entry form at The Leaping Lamp Contest Page.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Finally Fall

Here in the Bay Area we get Indian Summers, which means the warm weather extends late into the year. On the other hand, in June we're downright cold and this year was cold all through September. Just when I thought we weren't going to get a summer, we got a last of the year heatwave.

Now it's mid October and we've got our first rainy day. I finished my power walk just in time! To balance out my exercise, I baked some Trader Joe's Guilt-Free brownies! LOL! Still lots of calories, but it uses yogurt instead of butter. The apartment smells wonderful.

Golf is a dear and takes Aidan to his Thai school every Sunday so I will have time to be at home and get some work done. Today I'm working on creating a Google search box for my Stroller Envy site.

Late last month I created another Squidoo Lens for people who are searching for the best Toy Story 3 Toys for Christmas this year. You don't want to end up buying a piece of junk that falls apart or breaks within a few days or hours of playtime. This list is for toys that have high user ratings. While some selections are not cheap there is a range of prices for those on a budget too. So go and check it out!

I'm getting excited that November 2 is coming soon. That's when we get our Toy Story 3 DVD! You can pre-order yours now and get it on November 2 also. I'll be able to finish my Toy Story 3 pages on The Leaping Lamp, which we're all anxiously awaiting, not to mention the fabulous included short film, Day & Night.

Been busy at working outside the home too, helping with the annual California English Language Development Test (CELDT) going from school to school. We're on our last school and should be done by the end of October. Then I'll be able to put my full force back into Stroller Envy.

Lately I've really been getting into Dave Ramsey. Mom and Dad taught me not to ever charge more on my credit card that I could pay off at the end of the month. Somehow that always stuck in my head and I never got way into debt. The worst we ever got was a few thousand dollars, which is nothing compared to the tens of thousands of dollars in debt many people dig themselves into. Not to mention the student loans! Holy mackerel - some get right up there in the $100k range!

So I heard Dave Ramsey on a local radio station and was hooked. He's preaching to the choir in the case of this family! We just need to create more income. We have hardly any debt and no car payments. I'm working my tail off to get our income up and be my own boss at the same time. The only thing that's off-putting is the Christian slant. But on the other hand, it's not pushed and any scripture he quotes can be applied to any spiritual tradition. I make it a point to stay focused on the forest not the tree. (Does that make sense?)

Til next time - hopefully soon!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Amazon or eBay?

A few years ago Golf had used eBay a lot to bring in extra family income. He even became a power seller! EBay has radically changed in the three years since we've been sellers and many sellers have left and other online auction houses have started, taking on the monolith.

Then the other day a friend of mine was saying how her husband had sold a couple of extra new and valuable kitchen items he had but didn't need. I think they were like hood filters or something.

She went on to tell me that he sold them right away on Amazon! What struck me was that eBay is no longer the default choice for people looking to sell their stuff here and there. Apparently Amazon is now!

Amazon is more seller friendly, it seems. For my Pixar site, The Leaping Lamp, I had applied for the eBay affiliate program and was rejected. Twice! Look at my site, what is there about it that is inappropriate to sell eBay products? Amazon took me on right away and in less than a month, I've referred nearly $300 in business to them.

There's an interesting battle brewing between these two companies... who's going to dominate in the coming years? Which company will people think of using first? Probably a third party out of left field, totally unexpected. Another Google - that's what I think.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Happy Anniversary Leaping Lamp!

Peek Inside is all quiet, but I am a flurry of activity online with my Leaping Lamp website. My one year anniversary with my site was on June 5th and wow, has my site grown into something really wonderful. I'm very happy with the results and now I must gear up for Toy Story 3 in a week.

Next on my agenda is creating my next website which will be about.... well, I shall just have to announce it here on my personal blog!

I'm also on FaceBook more often than here on my blog, so please see my profile if you want to know what's going on in the P. family.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

My New Toy

Finally Finally FINALLY our family's starting to get out of this debilitating recession and I can only hope and wish that this upward mobility continues. In that line of thought, I've been wanting a new iPod for about half a year now. I still slog around a CD player now and then and I miss out on interesting podcasts and I know I don't listen to music as often since it's not as convenient.

Well, I was looking online at the prices for used iPods, but Golf told me that for my belated birthday present (December) I could get a brand new one, latest generation. Woo hoo! Wow!

So I've been having fun exploring new music and downloading my favorite CDs.

On a side note, when Benjawan came over the other day to pick up the manuscript I was editing for the latest Speak Like a Thai series and she was showing me on her iPhone that she has all the Speak Like a Thai volumes downloaded. She's also perfecting her Spanish and wishes to learn Chinese and Russian. Benjawan is a real linguaphile!

She's a busy woman and I had asked her how she manages to find time to learn languages and she says that with all these language learning programs downloaded, she listens in her car and learns in any spare time she has.

Well, I'm quite addicted to my tiny portable radio and I listen when I wash dishes or take Aidan out for a walk. But now that I have this iPod with Thai language learning downloaded, I can practice and learn Thai instead! I need to become more fluent and this is the perfect way to do so.

Anway, thank you Golf for my new toy - I'll be getting a lot of use out of it!