Culture/Film: Mightier than the Sword

Film for Thought

When you believe in something that’s bigger than yourself you fight to make yourself heard.

Journalist Roberta Staley took big chances to fight for women’s rights in Afghanistan to enpower them by helping to give them a voice that would be heard.  She was responsible for creating an award winning documentary entitled “Mightier than the Sword”.  It’s a major accomplishment.

Rahibib Rahimi (L) and Roberta Staley (R)

I first met Roberta in a Spanish class over coffee in 2012 and was intrigued when she said she’d be leaving for a few weeks to go undercover on assignment for Elle Magazine. In Afghanistan no less.

The Story

She went back to Afghanistan later to tell the story of Mozhdah Jamalzadah, a regular person here and a superstar in Afghanistan where she’s a powerful voice for women.  The Vancouver raised woman is referred to as the ‘Oprah of Afghanistan’.

This 48-minute documentary focuses on Afghan female journalists and filmmakers and their impact on gender perceptions and gender equality. In Afghanistan, a significant advance since the fall of the Taliban has been the entry of women into the media as reporters, directors, writers, producers and authors.

Excerpt by Lucas Aykroyd from Vancouver Magazine:

The powerful debut by Vancouver filmmaker Roberta Staley examines the impact of female media personalities in Afghanistan’s fight for gender equality. Staley, an award-winning editor and longtime contributor to Vancouver magazine, created the new 48-minute film to complete her Master’s degree in graduate liberal studies at SFU. After spending three weeks in 2012 in the Central Asian nation on assignment for Elle, she returned there in 2015 to shoot Mightier Than the Sword in 35 C weather during Ramadan. Staley remortgaged her condo to finish the film, which cost her more than $80,000. “That’s what you do when you believe in something,” she says. “I was obsessed with telling this story about the media and how it was changing gender perceptions and gender equality.”

View Trailer:

http://www.mightierthanthesword.ca/videos/

More to come

Feel-good Friday: Fleeting Farewell

Giving you a little heads up that I’m going on a California dreamin’ stopover before heading back to Canada. 

It also happens to be very superstitious writings on the wall, etc.  Friday the 13th.  Did you know that every month that begins on a Sunday has a Friday the 13th? You learn something new every day. 

I’ll be posting sporadically until the end of April, but plan to be back here after that with a few fresh story ideas. Collaborations are in the works as I’ve been exploring hidden hideaways, little lux resort style lodgings and cool places to eat, drink, shop and chill.  So I’m doing just that. Catching my breath while taking care of business and catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.

This pretty much sums it up

Catching up with Natalia, my fellow ex Montrealer friend who now lives in L.A.  She designs the oh so comfortable and stylish leisure/athletic wear line Garbe Luxe. We both worked at CBC (Vancouver + Toronto) in another lifetime.

Why not have a little fun in the sun?  Life is too short to not ride a cruiser wearing a cowboy hat or sundress. See you soon.  XO

Healthy Alternative: Homemade Coconut Milk

photo: the happiness kitchen

I’ve been pouring store bought coconut milk over granola, oatmeal and adding it in place of water to smoothies for a looooong time. That’s before I knew how so much more delicious and easy it is to make my own.  Trust me,  bought coconut milk does not compare to homemade. It’s great for smoothies, but after making your own you’ll realize how watery it is in comparison because they use more water to coconut ratio. I prefer coconut over almond milk.  It’s my tropical side coming out.

When you make your own it’s almost like cracking open a fresh coconut.  Really!

Ingredients (for about 3 cups)

  • 2 cups shredded or flaked unsweetened coconut
  • 3-4 cups water (use less water for thicker, creamier milk!)
  • Pinch salt
  • Add optional: 1 Tbsp maple syrup, ½ tsp. vanilla extract or scrape half a vanilla bean for added sweetness.  fyi: I have not added any extras so far

Instructions

  1. Add coconut, 3 cups of hot (not boiling) water, pinch of salt (I like himalayan), and any additional add-ins (optional) to a high-speed blender. Top with lid and cover with a towel to ensure it doesn’t splash. Blend for about 2 minutes or until the mixture seems well combined.
  2. Pour the mixture through a sieve over a large mixing bowl. Save pulp for smoothies, baked goods or add it to oatmeal. You won’t waste any and it gives added coconut taste.
  3. Transfer to a sealed container or glass bottle and refrigerate. Will keep in the refrigerator for about one week. Shake before use, as it can separate in the refrigerator (due to no preservatives!).  Some recommend squeezing the milk through a cheese cloth after using sieve but I didn’t need to do this.

FOR COFFEE LOVES (like me)

And if you want to go one step further try making your own coconut milk creamer.  I’ve been using So Good fat free Coconut Milk Creamer with French Vanilla which works really well to sweeten up coffee instead of adding sugar.  But I can’t find it easily in Vancouver and I’ve tried all the other brands which don’t compare in my opinion. I still like sweetener (that’s not gonna change) so I’m now making my own.

Homemade Coconut Milk Creamer

Homemade coconut milk creamer for coffee is also super easy to make. All you need is quality coconut milk and a healthy sweetener like honey and natural vanilla extract. Full fat coconut milk contains the healthy medium chain fats that are in coconut oil.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Can Full Fat Coconut Milk
  • 4 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

Instructions:

  1. Blend the coconut milk, sweetener of choice and vanilla extract together until the creamer is mixed well.
  2. Pour desired amount into your coffee or tea and store the remaining creamer in the refrigerator.
  3. Make sure to shake the creamer well before using. Enjoy! This creamer will be good for up to two weeks.

 Sooooo Good!

 

Music/Culture: OPERA in the PARK

Opera unites music, poetry, drama, and spectacle in the most elaborate of all art forms.

So it was an absolute pleasure to finally attend “Opera in the Park“, the Palm Springs premier cultural event in April .  This is the first time I’ve stayed here this long.  Usually I’m gone by the end of March because it gets too hot here, but this time I decided to stay a little longer. The event takes place at Sunrise Park which is a very short drive from where I live (part-time of course).

I originally had a spot reserved under the big white tent but decided to sit on the grass just outside it in a shady area with my lawn chair and the lunch I packed because I wasn’t sure they’d have food.  But they did have food and drinks.  And souvenirs. Most people were sitting outside the tent. It was lovely.

This live concert with arias from operas by Bizet, Delibes, Donizetti, Gounod, Mozart, Puccini, Rossini and Verdi draws thousands of people from all over Southern California every April in a celebration of great music with a professional orchestra conducted by Valery Ryvkin. In addition, a special tribute to Leonard Bernstein’s Centennial featured music from West Side Story and Candide.  It also marked the 20th Anniversary of Opera in the Park.  Oh, did I mention that it’s free? 

The Palm Springs Opera Guild Orchestra performed from 1-4 pm with famous operas including  Carmen, Rigoletto, Madame Butterfly, La Traviata, Faust and more.

There were food vendors from well known establishments offering delicious sandwiches, salads, platters, wine, beer, and cocktails.  You could even pre-order online from Trio restaurant.

Presenting Sponsors: The Augustine Foundation and

*Newman’s Own Foundation

Using the power of philanthropy to transform lives*Newman’s Own Foundation is all about supporting people doing great things.  People whos stories inspire us.

This month there’s also Coachella, a more famous and  enormously profitable music festival with a great long lineup.  A lot of musicians whom I’m familiar with and many I’m not.  But it was actually Opera in the Park that I really wanted to go to.  Coachella maybe another time.

Have you been to either?

Opera in the Park: Music Director: Mona Lands.  Artistic Director: Andrew Eisenmann.

Feel-good Friday: Fido Friendly Fitness

Well here’s something refreshingly fun. 

We already know they’re more dog friendly than most places in and around Palm Springs but here’s a place where you can actually work out with your pooch.  It’s called Venus de Fido and it’s in Palm Desert.  I mean I’m not sure my two are up for pilates or anything like that, but Layla is bugging me to get a membership to this place.

Not only that, but they have a specialty retail doggy boutique that’s dedicated to offering stylish, high-quality, unique products.    After your work-out you can check out the fashion-forward designer apparel, carriers, accessories, eco-friendly grooming and spa care products, novelty toys, premium pet foods, treats to share and other fabulous dog gifts and goodies.  Oh; now I see…that’s probably what Layla really wants.

Fido & You Fitness Class

The Fido & You fitness class combines light cardio, with yoga and core strengthening exercise for you while providing agility and trick training for your dog.  You can check out Fitness Class/Workshop Calendar for dates and times.

These classes are reason enough to move to Palm Desert:

Make Over Monday – All Day Spa Special and Happy Hour (4-6p)

Trunk Show Tuesday – Happy Hour (4-6p)

Wine Down Wednesday – Happy Hour (4-6p)

Yappy Hour Thursday – Happy Hour (4-6p)

Website: http://venusdefido.com/fitness-schedule/

The thing is, will you be able to keep up to your canine?

 

 

Style: California Cool

Inside a stylish box featuring California-founded brands.

It’s always special to receive a seasonal box filled with a carefully curated selection of luxury fashion and beauty products by Rachel Zoe, the fashion force behind the box of style. This California edition was delivered to me recently and I love it all.  It’s what’s inside that counts.  

RACHEL ZOE COLLECTION PALM PRINT DUSTER EXCLUSIVE

According to Rachel nothing epitomizes California glamour like an effortless duster in a playful print. It’s the ultimate ode to West Coast cool.  As I’ve discovered, it can be worn a multitude of ways; to the beach, belted over a slipdress or as shown in above photo.

BONNIE CLYDE THE HILL SUNGLASSES EXCLUSIVE shown with KOPARI
COCONUT ROSE TONER which by the way smells heavenly.

These playful sunnies are a little bit Audrey Hepburn and a little bit Twiggy.  They suit a variety of face shapes.  I have lots of sunglasses but these round out (ha,ha) my collection.

Kopari Lip Lovers coconut oil and shea butter lip balm (not shown).  Love this super hydrating balm which goes on silky but not sticky. Truly one of the best I’ve tried to date.

LILI CLASPE ROPE THE MOON LARIAT EXCLUSIVE
This simple-yet-stunning lariat was designed exclusively as the ideal finishing touch which can compliment anyone’s style.  Came in gold but they have silver too.

JEN ATKIN X CHLOE + ISABEL
HEADWRAP & CHOKER.    

A little glitter goes a long way especially to dress up your tresses.  This one is designed by Rachel’s friend and hair genius Jen Atkin. It also works well around the neck as a choker or on the wrist.
Images: The Zoe Report
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If so please tell them I sent you

Super Food: Moroccan Chickpea Quinoa Salad

Sweet meets Savory

This healthy & hearty salad made in one pot is hard to beat. It takes maybe 30 minutes to prepare and it’s a delicious vegetarian meal packed with protein which comes in handy for lunch. Non-vegetarians can enjoy it for dinner served as a side along roast chicken or fish. 

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetarian broth (or water)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ⅔ cup dried cranberries
  • ⅓ cup finely diced flat leaf parsley
  • ½ cup sliced toasted almonds

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add coconut oil to a large pot and place over medium heat. Once oil is hot add in onion and sauté until onion is translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the following spices: turmeric, cumin, cinnamon and salt and pepper; cook for 30 seconds more.
  2. Next add in broth (or water) and quinoa; bring mixture to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low and cook for exactly 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove from heat and fluff quinoa with a fork.
  3. Stir in chickpeas, cranberries and parsley to the quinoa and mix until well-combined. Taste and adjust seasonings. Garnish with toasted almonds and extra parsley. Serves 4.
  4. To serve: Place in mason jars or meal prep containers for lunch throughout the week. Garnish with extra toasted almonds.

Quinoa: with 8 grams per cup, this gluten-free seed-like grain is a fantastic source of protein, magnesium, antioxidants, and fiber.

Recipe & Photo: ambitiouskitchen.com