All posts in Self Improvement

Cooking Tips from Master Chefs

During this holiday season many of us are cooking, cooking, cooking. I’m always looking for tips of the trade to make my meals that much better and Eat This Not That has provided some really good ones.

Some of them, like taste your dishes as you cook, using the pasta water in your sauce (gravy, too), and drying your meat before cooking I already knew. But I didn’t know you should time the salting of your dishes, prepare your plates ahead of time (so easy and should have been a no-brainer), and grocery shopping on Wednesday’s are all new to me. So take the time to read the list; they give 30 great tips.

And most importantly…have a great holiday!!

Still Rockin’ It
Scarlet Mom

Making Merry During the Holidays

It’s that time of year. Time to be around family members who annoy us, in-laws we wish we didn’t have, and those not so savory people that we call “family.” I’m really lucky. I like my family. I really look forward to my brothers coming into town and hanging out with them. I always look forward to my sister visiting although this year has put some distance and tension between us. It breaks my heart that she has decided, for the second year in a row, to not join us for Christmas. I am heartbroken that she cannot see how important it is to all of us to have her here with us and she is annoyed that we keep pressuring her to come. Typical family stuff.

What I have come to realize is that none of this matters. This push and pull between us only adds to the tension and unhappiness. So I let it go. Christmas is but one day in the course of our lives. And what we fail to realize is that each and every day is a gift. A gift from God, from the Universe, from whomever, but a gift nonetheless. We forget that our time here is precious and limited and it can be taken from us at any second. I know this all too well.

So when your in-laws starts to annoy you, or that Uncle tells too many inappropriate jokes, try to remember that we’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve been given. Take a deep breath, extend a hand, or a hug, and remember that this, perhaps, could be the last time that all of you are gathered together under one roof for one reason or another. Logistics, schedules, and aging relatives tend to change the holidays around more than we like. Try not to be too set in your ways. Be open to new traditions and new people in your life. Instead of looking at these people as annoyances, that they are not enough like you or doing things you wouldn’t do, try taking a step back and appreciating them for who they are. Appreciate them for the daily struggles they deal with, just like you. And know that they may feel even more awkward than you do. Nobody knows what truly goes on behind closed doors; we all put up a good front.

So this holiday season, be kind to your family, friends, and strangers. Pretend this is the very last Christmas that you will ever spend on earth. If it truly was, how would it change your behavior?

Have a rockin’ Christmas
Scarlet Mom

This Year, Make It An American Christmas

It’s barely a week past Thanksgiving. Are you still giving thanks? On Thanksgiving day, most of us sat around the house, sat around the table, said a prayer or two, said what we were thankful for, hugged our families, argued with our families, watched football, and took a nap. It was a scene out of Norman Rockwell portrait. Beautiful. But by Thursday night and black Friday morning, what were Americans doing? Pushing and scrambling, shoving grandparents to the floor, kicking kids out of the way, pelting each other with pepper spray, and getting into gun fights at the mall. All just to save a buck and be the first ones to buy the perfect gift. After all, isn’t this what the holidays are all about?

This year, it’s time to make some changes. Being thankful should last more than one day and being gracious and polite should be an innate part of who we are. It shouldn’t be painful to be pleasant. On top of all that, we need to keep our consumerism at home, not ship it off to China. We need to support our small and local businesses and keep our money working here in our own economy. So when you’re trying to think of things to buy this year think American and think small business. Think US Savings Bonds, or gift certificates to local restaurants. Choose your local toy store and choose toys made in America. I have posted a link here to show you all the great toys that are made here at home. Need some bath products? Check these out.

There are so many other things; you just have to be creative and thoughtful. It doesn’t take a lot of work, especially if you own a computer and can key up Google. Just take a walk around your local shopping center. Let’s keep some of our hard earned dollars at home this year.

Oh…AND BE NICE!! Santa is watching.

Still Rockin’ It
Scarlet Mom

Market Manners

I just got back from the grocery store and holy crap, what is up with everyone? During this time of year stores are extra crowded and people are extra rude. Add to this rudeness the fact that no one really seems to care about anyone else around them. Today’s blog is basically an addendum to Common F*cking Courtesy in that everyone needs to get some. When you are at the supermarket, look around you. Be cognizant of your surroundings and have some freakin’ courtesy. Here are some basic rules for your to live by during this holiday season and every day of the year while at your local supermarket:

Right Side of the Road – we live in America. Keep yourself and your shopping cart on the right side of the aisles. If what you need is on the left side, park your cart snugly against the right side of the aisle and venture across without your cart. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist’s brain to figure this out.

Park Your Shopping Cart – while trying to drive my shopping cart through the turkey area today I noticed that many douche bags had just stopped, left their cart mid walk, and started digging for turkeys. This is messed up. Find a parking spot for your cart that is out of the way before venturing off. Am I the only one who sees the logic here?

Take a Freaking Shower – seriously people, bathe before you go to the store. There is nothing worse than trying weave through a crowded store and having to breathe in someone nastiness, be it greasy hair or just plain ole BO. Disgusting.

Put Your Shopping Cart Away – after you finishing loading up your groceries into your car, take your lazy ass two extra parking spaces and put your cart away. People who don’t do this don’t deserve to breathe the same oxygen as the rest of us.

Super Big Car Carts – yes, I know your kids like these carts that look like cars. But when your supermarket is at capacity be the parent and tell the kids “no.” These things take up twice the space in the isles, are hard to maneuver, and don’t hold as many groceries. You can go back to these fun carts when it’s not peak shopping time.

Parking Lot Manners – as a pedestrian you do have the right of way. That does not, however, give you the right to be an asshole. Walk quickly when cars are waiting for you to cross. And if someone motions for you to go, wave “thank you” at them. You may get run over if you don’t.

100 Items vs. 1 Item – lines are long all day every day. If you have a shopping cart full of groceries and someone is behind you with the one item they forgot earlier in the day, let them go in front of you. That’s what cool people do.

It’s the Holidays, Put on a Happy Face – we’re all rushed and stressed but guess what? It’s the Holidays. Remember why you’re at the store buying all this stuff. Be nice. Smile. Say “thank you” and “please.” You just might make someone’s day.

Still Rockin’ It
Scarlet Mom

Do You Eat Fish? You MUST Read This

Eat This Not That just published their latest article, “12 Fish You Should Never Eat.” I was shocked when I read this list since many of the fish listed are fish that I eat regularly.

Since I blog about eating healthy I felt it was my duty to inform you about this list and what to avoid. Please look at this list carefully. I have listed it below but be sure to look at the actual link because it lists the fish you can choose instead of the ones they have banned.

Imported Catfish

Why It’s Bad: Nearly 90 percent of the catfish imported to the U.S. comes from Vietnam, where use of antibiotics that are banned in the U.S. is widespread. Furthermore, the two varieties of Vietnamese catfish sold in the U.S., Swai and Basa, aren’t technically considered catfish by the federal government and therefore aren’t held to the same inspection rules that other imported catfish are.

Caviar

Why It’s Bad: Caviar from beluga and wild-caught sturgeon are susceptible to overfishing, according to the Food and Water Watch report, but the species are also being threatened by an increase in dam building that pollutes the water in which they live. All forms of caviar come from fish that take a long time to mature, which means that it takes a while for populations to rebound.

Atlantic Cod

Why It’s Bad: This one was difficult to add to the “dirty dozen list,” says Cufone, because it is so vital to the economic health of New England fishermen. “However, chronic mismanagement by the National Marine Fisheries Service and low stock status made it very difficult to recommend,” she says. Atlantic cod stocks collapsed in the mid-1990s and are in such disarray that the species is now listed as one step above endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.

American Eel

Why It’s Bad: Also called yellow or silver eel, this fish, which frequently winds up in sushi dishes, made its way onto the list because it’s highly contaminated with PCBs and mercury. The fisheries are also suffering from some pollution and overharvesting.

Imported Shrimp

Why It’s Bad: Imported shrimp actually holds the designation of being the dirtiest of the Dirty Dozen, says Cufone, and it’s hard to avoid, as 90 percent of shrimp sold in the U.S. is imported. “Imported farmed shrimp comes with a whole bevy of contaminants: antibiotics, residues from chemicals used to clean pens, filth like mouse hair, rat hair, and pieces of insects,” Cufone says. “And I didn’t even mention things like E. coli that have been detected in imported shrimp.” Part of this has to do with the fact that less than 2 percent of ALL imported seafood (shrimp, crab, catfish, or others) gets inspected before its sold, which is why it’s that much more important to buy domestic seafood.

Atlantic Flatfish

Why It’s Bad: This group of fish includes flounder, sole, and halibut that are caught off the Atlantic coast. They found their way onto the list because of heavy contamination and overfishing that dates back to the 1800s. According to Food and Water Watch, populations of these fish are as low as 1 percent of what’s necessary to be considered sustainable for long-term fishing.

Atlantic Salmon (both wild-caught and farmed)

Why It’s Bad: It’s actually illegal to capture wild Atlantic salmon because the fish stocks are so low, and they’re low, in part, because of farmed salmon. Salmon farming is very polluting: Thousands of fish are crammed into pens, which leads to the growth of diseases and parasites that require antibiotics and pesticides. Often, the fish escape and compete with native fish for food, leading to declines in native populations. Adding to our salmon woes, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is moving forward with approving genetically engineered salmon to be sold, unlabeled, to unsuspecting seafood lovers. That salmon would be farmed off the coast of Panama, and it’s unclear how it would be labeled. Currently, all fish labeled “Atlantic salmon” come from fish farms.

Imported King Crab

Why It’s Bad: The biggest problem with imported crab is that most of it comes from Russia, where limits on fish harvests aren’t strongly enforced. But this crab also suffers from something of an identity crisis, says Cufone: “Imported king crab is often misnamed Alaskan king crab, because most people think that’s name of the crab,” she says, adding that she’s often seen labels at supermarkets that say “Alaskan King Crab, Imported.” Alaskan king crab is a completely separate animal, she says, and it’s much more responsibly harvested than the imported stuff.

Shark

Why It’s Bad: Problems associated with our eating too many sharks happen at all stages of the food chain, says Cufone. For one, these predatory fish are extremely high in mercury, which poses threats to humans. But ocean ecosystems suffer, too. “With fewer sharks around, the species they eat, like cownose rays and jellyfish, have increased in numbers,” Cufone says. “And the rays are eating—and depleting—scallops and other fish.” There are fewer of those fish in the oceans for us to eat, placing an economic strain on coastal communities that depend on those fisheries.

Orange Roughy

Why It’s Bad: In addition to having high levels of mercury, orange roughy can take between 20 and 40 years to reach full maturity and reproduces late in life, which makes it difficult for populations to recover from overfishing. Orange roughy has such a reputation for being overharvested that some large restaurant chains, including Red Lobster, refuse to serve it. However, it still pops up in grocer freezers, sometimes mislabeled as “sustainably harvested.” There are no fisheries of orange roughy that are considered well-managed or are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, so avoid any that you see.

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

Why It’s Bad: A recent analysis by The New York Times found that Atlantic bluefin tuna has the highest levels of mercury of any type of tuna. To top it off, bluefin tuna are severely overharvested, to the point of reaching near-extinction levels, and are considered “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Rather than trying to navigate the ever-changing recommendations for which tuna is best, consider giving it up altogether and switching to a healthy, flavorful alternative, such as Alaska wild-caught salmon.

Chilean Sea Bass

Why It’s Bad: Most Chilean sea bass sold in the U.S. comes from fishermen who have captured them illegally, although the U.S. Department of State says that illegal harvesting of the fish has declined in recent years. Nevertheless, fish stocks are in such bad shape that the nonprofit Greenpeace estimates that, unless people stop eating this fish, the entire species could be commercially extinct within five years. Food and Water Watch’s guide notes that these fish are high in mercury, as well.

Still Rockin’ It
Scarlet Mom

Common F*cking Courtesy

I’m about to go off on a tangent. And I’ll probably swear some more. If you don’t like either of those things you should probably move along.

I was in a hurry this morning. I needed to drop the little guy off at school in order to meet the individual who was going to be shadowing me all day. (Those of you in sales know what a pain in the ass it is when this happens; it can throw your day just slightly off and add a degree of stress.) Of course, there is a line to drop off even though it is early. There is an entire driveway in front of the school in the shape of a semi-circle but do you think people pull all the way forward to drop their kids off? Hell no!! They pull in ten damn feet and park. Far be it from little Dick or Jane to walk an extra five f*cking feet to the door.

So there is a line where there doesn’t need to be a line, along with the most inconsiderate bitch who has decided she can’t wait in this line and has thrown her car in part with her entire backside still in the street.
I mean, who cares if the rest of Houston has to wait on her lazy ass. She has literally put her car in park, has the trunk open and is unloading what looks like their entire house. By this time the line is moving but the dipshit at the front of the line won’t turn because lazy bitch has her car in park, half in the street. Finally the pickup in front of me pulls around and turns. I breathe a sigh of relief that he has the brains to pull through the drive. Oops! Spoke too soon. This jackass pulls between two lines of parked cars in the driveway and stops his car right in front of door to the school, parking at a perfect angle so that NO ONE can get by. I am now in awe. My mouth is literally hanging open. I finally get by and do the courteous thing: I PULL ALL THE WAY FORWARD to the end of the drive. And guess what? My little guy had no issue with running to the door. He’s a kid. He loves to run and walk.

Society’s egomania is everywhere. I don’t dare turn on my blinker early in traffic. People don’t slow down to let you in, they speed up to cut you off. When I fill up my car at Costco they post a sign “Please pull forward.” Why do they need to post this? Isn’t that just common sense? The other day at a Shell station I pulled up to the pump at the exact same time as another man. I smiled at him thinking he would wave me through. He had the bigger car and he just kept easing his huge Suburban closer and closer to my car. Seriously?? As I pulled around to the other side of the station it happened again. This time the gentleman rolled down his window to tell me, “You go ahead, ma’am.” Thankfully chivalry isn’t completely dead.

What has happened to our society? When did people become so narcissistic and rude? When did they stop caring about anyone except themselves? Many people have written articles and books saying that we are in a “Narcissism Epidemic” and I believe them. A recent article commented:

Whether through fate, circumstances or moral imperative, our culture kept hubris in check. Now, we encourage it. Pastors preach of a Jesus that wants us to be rich. The famously egocentric wide receiver Terrell Owens declares at a press conference that being labeled selfish is fine with him. Donald Trump names everything he owns after himself and calls his detractors “losers.” We live in a world where everyone can be a star—if only on YouTube. The general sense among students on that New Haven campus is that with the world being such a competitive, cutthroat place, they have to be narcissists. Well, you may need a supersize ego to win “America’s Next Top Model” or to justify your multimillion dollar bonus. But last I checked, most of our lives don’t require all that attitude. Treating the whole world as if it works for you doesn’t suggest you’re special, it means you’re an ass. As an antidote to a skyrocketing self-worth, [the author] recommends humility, evaluating yourself more accurately, mindfulness and putting others first. Such values may seem quaint, maybe even self-defeating, to those of us who think we’re special, but trust me: it gets easier with practice.

Please don’t be an ass. Evaluate yourself and your actions, be mindful, and put others first.

Still Rockin’ It
Scarlet Mom