Writer ~ Editor ~ Creator

Writer ~ Editor ~ Creator

Entertainer, Humanitarian, Author, Lover but most importantly, Kenji's Human

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Flying Free

Side Effects of You
Fantasia’s New CD

Wow, Fantasia has done a complete 360 and has come out the other end even more humbled and soulful.  It is difficult to imagine as she has always appeared humble but more so now than ever.  Simply put in her own words; ‘Birds fly free with no worry…..’ Fantasia goes on full of emotion as she exclaims ‘I feel God has turned me into a bird….. not to live in my past but to look forward to my future’. 

As she reviews her new album Side Effects of You, she is full of passion so much so that she begins to cry as she expresses the joy and gratitude she feels for her journey.  She makes excuses that she is just a cry baby but her rapture is felt by all in her presence.  Proudly, Fantasia refers to her new song collection, as “Rock Soul”.

Fantasia considers the Executive Producer, Harmony Samuels her ‘baby Quincy Jones’.  In reference to his studio and team; ‘I feel I am supposed to be here!  I grew up in a musical gospel family with KC and Jojo who are my cousins.  I always wanted to do an album like Michael Jackson did with Quincy Jones and to me, this is my album.’  The seamless connection the Grammy Award winning songstress shares with her production family at London Bridges Studios is strong and evident on the CD.  Importantly, every song sounds unique; no two songs sound the same which is crucial for career longevity.

Tracks include a duet with grown up Jamia Simone Nash who played a young Fantasia in Life is Not a Fairytale: The Fantasia Barrino Story, a smooth reggae track that invites listeners to nod in rhythm to the creamy beat and one that is sure to be at the top of the pop charts Without Me a collaboration with Kelly Roland and Missy Elliot. The new CD is a heartfelt
reflection of her story, past and present as she soars into her future.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Easier to Buy Wine over the Internet? Yes!

With all the hoopla, yes hoopla..... around the Iowa, New Hampshire and S. Carolina caucuses and debates over the ideal Republican Presidential candidate (if there even is one) a few new California Laws may have slipped by without being noticed.

There are 760 new laws that became effective January 1st 2012 including revoking drunk driver's licenses for 10 years on the 3rd offense. Everyone should know by now that Booster Seats are required for children under 8 or under 4"9' and they must ride in the back seat.

 Autism: Health Insurers are now required to include coverage for Autism. Disappointing to learn this was not previously covered.

Baby Food: Stores are banned from selling expired infant food and formula. Wait, stores can sell expired non baby food?

Cyber-bullying: Schools are 'allowed' to suspend students for bullying classmates on social networking sites. It's about time they are 'allowed' but it is not mandatory.

Infused Drinks: This is a good one. Bars are now allowed to infuse fruits and vegetables with alcohol for use in cocktails. Now the olive floating in your martini or the pineapple slice in your Pina Colada can be soaked in alcohol too for an extra kick.

Job Applicants: No longer can employers use credit reports as part of the decision making process for job applicants. This is a long time coming and way overdue. A person's credit has no place on a resume. Hopefully, this will help many of the folks out of work find employment if previously denied based on their credit score.

Medical Consent: Many will cringe in learning children 12 and older do not need parent's permission to get medical care for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases including the HPV vaccine.

Puppies & Kittens: No longer can live animals be sold on any street, sidewalk, parking lot or other public right-of-way. This will hopefully help minimize the adoption of unwanted pets. If pets are harder to adopt, they will more likely go to people that really want to care for them.

Sexual Orientation: State university systems are encouraged to collect data on students' sexual orientation and encourages the legislative analyst to use it to recommend improvements in the quality of life for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students. This appears to be a creative tactic to invade privacy. Curious to see how this data is ultimately used.

Work Place Bereavement Policy: Establishes an employee's right to as many as three days of bereavement leave within three months following the death of a spouse, child, parent, grandchild, sibling or domestic partner.

These are just a few of the many new laws. Some will improve our lives while others may seem like more of an inconvenience. At the end of the day, these are a few of the new changes in California thanks to your tax dollars. For a complete list visit http://www.californiality.com/2010/12/new-california-laws-2011.html.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


My tribute to Ice Cream!

July is National Ice Cream Month and July 17th is National Ice Cream Day, so I must blog about one of America's favorite sugary sensations! Let's start with a little bit of history......I remember when I wrote a report in elementary school on Italy, ice cream was invented in my homeland. It is believed Nero the Emperor of Rome would have snow brought down from the mountains and combine it with nectar, fruit pulp and honey. Centuries later, the first ice cream parlor was opened in the U.S. in 1776.

We cannot talk about ice cream without mentioning the beloved ice cream cone! Italo Marchiony sold his homemade ice cream from a pushcart on Wall Street. In an effort to prevent his customers from breaking or wandering off with his serving glasses he began baking edible waffle cups with sloping sides and a flat bottom which he patented in 1903 and the ice cream (cone) bowl was invented! 

There are a variety of ways ice cream can be enjoyed; in a bowl, cone, or as a cake, in between cookies, whoopee pies  or as an ice cream sandwich. My favorite ice cream sandwich is the one I have enjoyed since I was a child It's It. Invented in 1928 made just outside San Francisco; I love both the mint chip and coffee flavors of ice cream which are squeezed between two oatmeal cookies and covered in dark chocolate! Yum! 

Ice cream is also enjoyed over brownies drizzled in hot fudge, blondies, coconut, caramel and graham cracker creations, on pies, cakes, you name it. My fave all time non-traditional ice cream treat is pumpkin ice cream over warm gingerbread. The first time I enjoyed this treat was at the Time Cafe in The Village (N.Y.C.) where my girl Steph was a waitress. Ah, the good 'ol days....

Ice Cream has come a long way from snow, nectar and pushcarts. Today's flavors literally run the gamut from America's most popular flavor vanilla (booooring!) to decadent delights such as Black Velvet, Malted Belgian and White Chocolate Raspberry. There are unique flavors that sound like they are straight out of my spice rack like Lemon Opal Basil, Honey Ginger or Apricot Rosemary from Creole Creamery. How about flavors that contain ingredients you might expect to find on a plate like Maple Bacon, Banana Nut Bread, Roasted Jalapeno and Peanut Butter and Jelly. Lets not forgot the cocktail flavors; Butter Beer, Blueberry Mojito, Rum Bisque or Cucumber Mint Vodka from Dolcezza Gelato. Sounds dangerous! 

Not only do today's ice cream flavors contain unique, crazy and sometimes bizarre ingredients, the names are also out of the ordinary! How about Dutch Utopia, Imagine World Peace by Ben & Jerry's; Caramel & Sweet Cream Ice Creams Swirled with Fudge Peace Signs & Toffee Cookie Pieces.... really peace signs? Luv it! I have to say Ben & Jerry's has cornered the market on unique flavors, names and ingredients. Check out Late Nite Snack; Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with a Salty Caramel Swirl & Fudge Covered Potato Chip Clusters. Yes, Potato Chip Clusters! Crazy! A few other odd names out there in the world of ice cream include: Dementor’s Cloud, Triwizard Treat and Gryffindor Tower inspired by the Harry Potter series and are available at Amy's Ice Cream.
Birthday Cake Remix

My personal favorite Birthday Cake remix from Cold Stone Creamery with cake batter ice cream! Did I mention when I bake a cake I eat half the batter before it makes it's way to the oven? Those are a few of my favorite ice cream treats. What are yours?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Having the Last Word : What's the Big Deal?

Over the years, I have heard people complain so and so always has to have the last word and how it bothers folks. As a result of society's negative stigma of always having the last word, I have adapted to the belief this is a negative action or a turn off to some people, but why?

Recently, a friend mentioned that I always have the last word. I have been thinking about what he said and trying not to, at least with him anyway. If he mentioned it, it must bother him. I respect him and our friendship so if not having the last word is important to him and does not negatively affect my life or inconvenience me, happy to try and curb the urge. 

What's the big deal?
I am the first to make changes to improve my relationships with people and improve who I am as a member of society as long as it does not go against my beliefs or change who I am at the core. For example: Kenji doesn't like it when I play music at a certain decibel or songs that have whistling in them. I simply don't blast my stereo when she is in the car or I will simply  change the station if I notice a song makes her uncomfortable. This does not change who I am or my relationship with her, just makes her more comfortable. Easy. So when the comment was made about having the last word, I became more conscientious and made an effort not to do it. He was appreciative and now we joke about it, but what I discovered was interesting.

I realized it was my way of having closure on a conversation and to me, I thought I was being polite. He would text me or call me and the conversation would often hang or end with a 'good night', 'talk to you later', 'see you in a minute', etc. Naturally, I would respond with an "okay", "ttyl" or if the conversation just hung out there like text messages often do.... I would respond in an effort to end the conversation. Apparently, this is considered having the last word. In some instances I would text him to say.....don't leave me hanging or else I will have the last word. This would usually produce a chuckle. Fun times.

My self awareness led me to a new discovery and ultimately wanting to know: What's the Big Deal with Having the Last Word.  I want to hear your feedback. What do you think about having the last word? Why is it such a stigma and what is wrong with "ending a conversation?"

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I've Saved 6 Lives. How About You? ~ Part II ~

When I began writing my last blog "I've Saved 6 lives......" I intended to write about both the cats and dogs I have saved over the years. As many know, I love to talk/write, therefore I have split up my series into two parts. The first part was about the 3 dogs and this second part is about the 3 cats I have saved. If you have not read part one please do! I've Saved 6 Lives. How About You? ~ Part I ~

.......Dogs are my first furry love but cats aren't so bad. They are also good companions if you are not allergic to them and do not mind being controlled in your home. Dogs on the other hand are easily trained. If you are having difficulty let me know as I have it down to a science! Just like kids, they need boundaries, rewards and love. Piece of cake! Watch out Cesar! I digress.... I could write about dogs all day. On to kitties....

I rescued my first cat when I lived in San Diego. A friend had liberated the kitten from a couple of kids who had found her in an alley and were tired of playing with her. I really am not a cat lover but the cute little fur ball tore at my heartstrings. I named her Precious. Words of advice; get to know your pets personality before naming her or she may end up being the EXACT opposite. This cat was a wholly terror! While I was at work she would bounce off the walls and chew on the hanging pictures. Crazy cat.

Eventually, I gave her to my parents as they had a big property and she could roam free. She ended up running away because of Sting.... a cat my Dad rescued for me after I ran a way from home at 16... another blog post entirely. Years later, my parents sold their house and moved away. When the house was on the market again, I stopped by for a tour for old time's sake. As I was leaving, I had one of the most incredible experiences of my life.... Precious came walking up to me from down the street. Her eyes were locked on me as she approached and sauntered up to me. We had not seen one another in more than 10 years. She sat down in front of me and looked me in the eye. I felt she wanted to say 'I've had a good life, thank you.' It was great closure.

Four years ago, Kenji (my doggie) and I moved into our beautiful house. It was not long before I discovered there was an orange cat that came with it. His name was not on the deed at signing, but it was obvious he wanted to be here and came with the yard. I named him Orange Kitty in an attempt to not get attached. Poor thing had a rough time fighting to keep the backyard to himself. Everyday, I would run outside to hissing and fighting as he fought cats attempting to defend his territory. I really don't think he would have succeeded had I not intervened. I began feeding him and it was not long before he was there to greet me when I left and when I returned at night and sleeping on my doorstep. After more than 3  years of love and affection, sadly he passed away. I took him to the vet on his last day of life and lovingly let him spend his last night in my home despite my allergies. I buried him in my yard where he was happiest.

Orange Kitty had a beautiful friend..... Siamese Kitty, I suspect you can guess her breed. Siamese Kitty was abandoned next door and neighbors would feed her. She would hang out with Orange Kitty and come to his rescue. On several occasions if another cat approached, Siamese Kitty would literally step in-between Orange Kitty and the other cat. They would snuggle together at night to keep warm.

After O.K. passed, Siamese Kitty took his place in my yard. She is so sweet.....if I sit down outside, she curls up in my lap. When I leave a door open, she strolls in the house. I really want to find a home for her where she can stay warm at night and curl up everyday on someones lap. She truly wants to be indoors but I am allergic and Kenji is a 'no thank you' cat kind of dog. Kenji is a one pet human kind of dog and I promised her I would keep it that way. I think she was a little jealous of my fish Luigi, but I can't prove it.

Prior to Orange Kitty's passing, I had researched where I would send him if I ever moved. I decided against the Humane Society after learning they have so many cats, more than likely he would be euthanized. I discovered a wonderful rescue Cat House on the Kings. They are California's largest no-cage, no-kill, lifetime cat sanctuary and adoption center located on 12 acres. Please check them out and donate if you feel the urge.

I may take Siamese Kitty to Cat House on the Kings, but would prefer to find her a home! Please let me know if you or anyone you know would like to love her and provide her with a warm home and a safe life. I will provide the food!

Friday, July 16, 2010

I've Saved 6 Lives. How About You? ~ Part I ~

I was put to a challenge well not exactly. It was 'suggested' by Be the Change for Animals, http://btc4animals.com/ to blog today (okay yesterday) about a cause near and dear to my heart. At least I think that was the request. I am more than happy to blog about the adoption of animals as I have numerous experiences in various types of adoptions and rescues.To date in my lifetime I have been involved with the adoption of 3 dogs and 3 cats. I admit I am more of a dog lover and am allergic to cats but I will help any animal in need. My first story begins when I was five or six years old.

One rainy winter afternoon, I can remember my father driving my brother and I to our Mother's office. I remember pulling up in the driveway in our Mustard colored Pinto full of anticipation. My Mother's boss Flora (can't believe I still remember her name) had found an abandoned puppy sitting on a doorstep across from the office. When she knocked on the door and inquired about the pup she was told it was a Christmas gift they did not want so they put it outside! What the !!!! Even as a child I knew that was wrong. Their poor decision became our opportunity.....now he belonged to us.

I named him Muffin and he brought us years of enjoyment and love. My heart continues to go out to all rescues that care for unwanted pets. I really like Muttville http://www.muttville.org/ as they rescue, foster and support senior dogs. Senior dogs statistically are among the least desirable dogs to be adopted.

Our second dog we adopted from a shelter. My parents let me pick out a puppy. I fell in love with a litter of Old English Sheep dogs and chose the one that did not want to wake up. I wanted to name him Nappy because he liked taking naps. At my parents suggestion I chose another name Napoleon, 'Polo' for short. Hey, Polo's were in at the time so I got my nickname from the current trend of Ralph Lauren attire. Polo lived many years and was a great guard dog. In all honesty the most he would probably do is lick someone to death.

Polo was fortunate because when he was brought to the shelter, he was a puppy. Typically, puppies always get adopted. Unfortunately, there are many, many pets that are not adopted from shelters and are often euthanized. When choosing a shelter, I recommend supporting the shelters that do not euthanize animals. They are far and few between but I hope one day soon all shelters are no-kill facilities.

My current fur baby Kenji, was (for a large fee) rescued from a puppy mill. I did not realize it at the time, but as I left the woman's house I discovered many litters whimpering in her garage. I was very upset at the discovery and did everything I could to get her shut down. She had been circumventing the system for years and at the very least was banned by the AKC for papering dogs.

Puppy mills are notorious for deplorable conditions for both the sire (dad) and the dam (mom) and the puppies.  If you are unsure if the puppy you are adopting is from a puppy mill, (although I highly recommend a shelter or rescue) ask to see the pups parents. All reputable breeders will produce the parents or make arrangements to do so as this is not an uncommon request. Next time I will use the Shih Tzu Rescue http://www.shihtzurescue.org/as/contents/about.shtml. This rescue keeps dogs until adopted and will keep those that do not find homes allowing them to live out their lives at the facility.

I cannot end this blog post without a little education as I love to teach in addition to entertain. According to the Bill Foundation website over 56% of dogs and puppies entering shelters are killed, based on reports from over 1,055 facilities across America. (National Counsel on Pet Population Study)

An estimated 5 million cats and dogs are killed in shelters each year. That's one about every six and one half seconds. (The Humane Society of the U.S.) Millions more are abandoned, only to suffer from illness or injury before dying. (Doris Day Animal League)

When you are ready, whichever way you decide to adopt whether it be a shelter, rescue or if a lost abandoned animal finds you.............please rescue an animal rather than supporting a breeder. If you cannot provide a home to a homeless pet, can you perhaps volunteer your time at a shelter? Donate money, even if its $10? How about donating items? Did you know shelters are in need of food and bedding such as towels, bathmats and even the pet bed she outgrew? What about Fluffy's toys she no longer wants? Please think outside-the-box if you cannot adopt but if you can, please help.

The Fur Babies of the world thank you for your time and consideration.....Kenji is giving me the stink eye....better sign off.

......to be continued in my next blog...........my rescued cats.........oh the suspense!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Ferris Wheel

My life is like riding on a Ferris Wheel. As I sit up high looking down below with the wind whispering through my curls, my heart pounding with my adrenaline rushing. I have mixed emotions ranging from fear to excitement. As I cling to the safety bar, knuckles turning white I rev up the courage to peer below. Looking down I can see all the wonderful rides. Some look dangerous yet exciting while others seem safe and fun. So many possibilities and opportunities it will be hard to choose. I am eager for my current ride to end so that I can start another.

As I look around I see kids rocking their cages scaring their friends, a couple kissing and a small child crying from fear. There are many distractions and yet I still day dream. I remember being in Paris riding the largest Ferris wheel in the world Le Grande Roue de Paris. This Ferris wheel was a replacement to the first wheel built in 1900 for the World Exhibition. It was later demolished and the passenger cars were so large they were used as homes for French families in the region devastated by the World War. The second wheel was larger than the first which was 100 meters. It was an amazing experience to be up so high and to see breath taking views of France such as the Eiffel Tower and Champ de Elysee.

Back to the U.S. ......... as I peer down from atop, all the people are small like ants scurrying around. Fascinated by their movements, I can't wait to get down and check out all the fair has to offer. My first stop will be the cotton candy stand and then maybe I will have a carmel apple or perhaps a funnel cake {so overrated; deep fried dough nothing like my Grandmother's 'wondas' (Zeppoli) dough tied in knots, fried and covered in powdered sugar}. Mama's confections were even better than the fried sugary dough served in brown paper bags served at the North End St. Joseph's Festival in Boston. Give Mama's a try and let me know what you think.

~ Mama's Recipe ~ 

8 1/2 oz - All purpose white flour
1 - Egg
3 1/2 oz - Sugar
3 1/2 oz - Unsalted Butter
Touch of Vanilla Powder
Pinch of Salt
Shortening for frying (Crisco is my favorite)
Powdered Sugar for sprinkling (we use a baking shaker)

Prepare dough and allow to rise overnight.
Roll out using a rolling pin on wax paper dusted with flour.
Use a pizza wheel (or pastry wheel for jagged edges) to cut into strips not too thin or they will burn.
Twist the strips by rolling and then tie into knots. 
Deep fry until golden approx. 30 minutes, allow to cool.
While the knots are still warm, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Serves 4

My life parallels a ride (and all of the distractions) on a Ferris wheel. Daily I encounter many opportunities and I want to experience each one. I always find positivity and humor even in the worst situations. I created this blog to share my colorful opinions and experiences, the majority of which are funny, unique and rather entertaining. My goal is to teach readers something new, to invoke thought, to put a smile on their face and to make them  laugh (or at least giggle). Please follow my blog as I journey through this carnival of life.