"If you know more about each other, you're less likely be afraid... you're less likely to fight."

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I stumbled upon Heartbeat.fm when searching for a way to support a positive, peaceful force in/around Gaza. Like everyone else, I feel hopeless. But music WILL ALWAYS give me hope. So, today I am featuring Heartbeat Jerusalem, an organization of young Israelis and Palestinians who come together to make music, write songs, argue, hold hands, share stories and better understand each other through song and conversation. Harmony. 
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In their words:

Heartbeat’s core program focuses on the establishment and facilitation of ensembles of young Arab and Jewish, Palestinian and Israeli musicians (ages 14-24 years old) who come together weekly for sustained music based dialogue programs in HaifaJerusalem, and Jaffa – Tel Aviv. During these weekly sessions, Heartbeat youth explore each other’s cultures and narratives in safe, politically neutral settings that support creativity and communication. Developing skills in improvisation, song-writing, performance technique, music theory, communication, and leadership while engaging in dialogue about their daily lives and the conflict that surrounds them, participants raise their critical consciousness, and harness their agency to change the status quo in and between their communities.
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From Heartbeat's FB page:

Hello, My name is Rasha. I'm 18. 

I'm a high school student, and I often play music.


I'm an arab-palestinian living in Israel. 

I was born into the conflict, into one of the most vicious conflicts of the 21st century. 
This had occupied an integral part of my identity.
As time goes by, people continue to lose hope for peace.
Blind hatred and violence however, continue to increase while they're hiding behind censored news and stereotyping.

I believe in the power of words the power of music and the power of stage. It can reach anyone, it can make you think, hesitate and ask for a second. It can make you look at the reality you live from a different perspective. It can break these walls surrounding us physically and mentally. it simply provides hope and inner satisfaction.

Today, after a long period of hesitations and frustrations, of ignoring and facing, of reading and asking.. I've reached a point where i'm sick of hating. Blaming. and Hiding. Life in this cursed "Holy Land" is much more than this illusional life we are all living somehow. Life here is simply wrong. Human beings are being killed, Villages and families are being destroyed. and we are brainwashed to believe that the only solution for this situation is war. that people on the other side aren't really people. they're monster enemies.

I wish we will be able to see the full picture.. To see the enemy as a human being. And liberate ourselves from these barriers that we were born into, break these walls and 'start growing peaceful generations in this hopeless town' while taking the first step into the vision we all want to live.

Hope you enjoy the video... 






And this, also from Heartbeat's FB page: 

People do not see, people do not think, people love war, it gives them a reason for living, it gives them money, it gives them a sense of belonging, things happen like a wheel, dead people here, dead people there, real people, with family friends with desires with aspirations, and why? For principles? For land? For respect? I do not believe that there is any principle important enough to justify taking a boy's life — not Jewish, not Arab, not Korean, not German. I hear a lot of very extreme statements in recent days, statements that were waiting for the right moment to get out:”Death to Arabs" and "throw them into the sea”. I feel like there is nothing I will do or say that will change this situation, that it will change what those people did to those poor children from Gush Etzion or the lynching that happened yesterday in Jerusalem, the same people, the same anger, the same land. I wish things will change. I wish people would understand that we tried this method, so many times, the method of war, eye for an eye, it does not work! Fact! No, what works is sending lots of love to all those who need it now. And to all the children who say now that beyond the wall there are monsters, there are no monsters. There are children, some of them have guns, some have a teddy bear, some have a guitar, some have a bus. They’re all children. Let's enjoy this life as children.

- Dekel, 20, bassist




If you would like to donate to HEARTBEAT, you can do so here.  You can also donate, here for specific items and get involved by way of amplification/endorsement and/or volunteer work, here. 



GGC

Eat Well: Can Curry Love

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, WWW! 
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The other day, I found some new products in the Asian section of my grocery store—at least they were new to me—gluten free bean pastas made by Explore Asian. I am always trying new gluten-free products so I bought the mung bean fettuccini to try out.  I had already planned to make Thai curry that night. Instead of serving the curry over rice, I opted to use the bean pasta instead.
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Explore Asian bean pastas are very high in protein, fiber and iron.  In fact, a serving contains 50% of you daily requirement of protein, 45% of your fiber, and 36% of your iron, not to mention 10% of your calcium.  (That’s 4 times the amount of traditional pastas.) One problem with a lot of the gluten free pastas is that many of them use white rice and potato starch, neither of which are very nutritious, so the bean pastas are a fabulous gluten-free option. They can be served with any traditional sauces, in fact, the Explore Asian website has lots of recipe ideas for their different pastas. (They also have black bean, adzuki bean, and soybean spaghettis.)

When David was in junior high, he got the cooking bug and later in high school, he became enamored of Thai food. I gave him a Thai cookbook for Christmas one year and a friend of ours was so taken by his love of Thai food that she gave David a kaffir MAKRUT lime tree since makrut lime leaves are an important ingredient in Thai cooking and can be hard to find in stores.  Unfortunately for David, who now lives in Boston, the tree is still here.
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(I send him home with bags full of leaves when he comes to visit.) David’s tree has been growing in a pot on our front patio for 15 years and it provides abundant quantities of leaves for Thai cooking.
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Anyone can grow makrut lime trees in pots. They like to be in the sun, but do fine in partial shade or even indoors.  They cannot tolerate frost, so if you live in a cold climate, bring them in during winter months and put near a sunny window.  If you love Thai food, I highly recommend growing a makrut lime tree.  They are really easy to grow and provide that flavor unique to Thai food. Otherwise, look for the leaves in Asian markets. 

Thai cooking can be time consuming, as David and I discovered when we started cooking from his cookbook.  But I have found that quick curries with a few important Thai flavorings can be made quite easily. Besides makrut lime leaves, galangal root—a type of ginger—tamarind paste, fish sauce, and Thai curry paste are other Thai flavorings that are good to keep on hand for making a quick curry.
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The curry I made for this post was really simple. I used fried tempeh as the protein (you could also use tofu) and whatever vegetables I had on hand (green beans, tomatoes, and kale), but other good vegetables for Thai curry are mushrooms, peppers, bamboo shoots, carrots, and Chinese or sugar snap peas.

Quick Thai Curry with Tempeh and Vegetables
1 can coconut milk (I don’t use the low fat)
2 tsp Thai red curry paste
8 makrut lime leaves
2 tsp tamarind paste
2 tsp Thai fish sauce
1 package tempeh
1 small thinly sliced onion
2 cups vegetables of your choice (Chinese peas, sliced red pepper, green beans, kale, tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, etc)
Thai basil, or chopped cilantro

In saucepan, combine coconut milk, red curry, and kaffir lime leaves.
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Simmer for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, slice tempeh and fry in lightly oiled pan until browned on both sides. Set aside, and flash fry onions until tender. Add other vegetables and cook until just wilted.  Add vegetables to curry with tamarind paste and fish sauce. Bring to boil and simmer for a few minutes (vegetables should still be slightly crunchy). Add fried tofu and basil or cilantro. 
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If using mushrooms or tomatoes (see first photo), add now. Cook another couple of minutes.  Adjust seasoning to your taste. Serve over rice or bean pasta.
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Enjoy!

Love,
WWW 

what came first, the (baby) or the nest egg?

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This week on Mom.me, I'm attempting to tackle the tricky subject of money as it pertains to families, specifically larger families and those looking to start families who don't, say, own a home... have established themselves professionally, etc. 

For those who have been reading since the beginning, you will know that there has been a pretty major evolution since 2005, when I started this blog. We have grown our family, our earnings and everything else since first becoming parents but for many, it is a prerequisite to get married, purchase a home, experience professional success, etc before having a child. Which I also understand. In a city, though, getting to a comfortable place financially takes... a long time. And even then, it's still... not exactly... comfortable? 
Marriage, house, job … the nest egg typically comes before the chicken. It’s just that, for us, we did it backwards.
AKA, there is never enough money and there is never enough time and there is never enough of anything ever the end. 

Which is the point of this week's piece and while I CLEARLY come from a privileged place in which to write said post, this is my truth and I feel like it's a conversation worth having, especially for those of you out there who are waiting for the perfect time to make a baby. (It doesn't exist.)


"If you wait too long to have ALL OF THE THINGS you will end up with NONE of the things."


And yes, there is something to be said for making plans and having some order in the court before playing ball, but there is also something to be said for NOT making plans and just, you know, GOING FOR IT. Not that we were GOING for four children... 

But that's just it, right? Plans backfire. They always do! For us, they backfired in the best possible way, of course, but much like my pregnancy with Archer being the "surprise" that solidified everything good in this life, the twins' arrival signified what I had assumed to be the case all along: plans are LOL. In our experience, anyway. 
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What do you think? What came first for you, the baby or the nest egg? I look forward to hearing from you/have a great weekend, everyone. 


GGC

The Other Side

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It takes us an hour and a half to get there and we spend the whole drive arguing. Because this lane is too slow and why did you go this way, Mom and THAT'S MY BOOK, FABLE.

"No, Archer. It's mine!

"Separate."

"It's mine!"

"SEPARATE!"

"No, mine!"

"I'm going to turn this car around if you guys don't cool it!" I say, but it's a lie. I'm not going to turn this car around even if traffic permitted. Even if someone offered up cash monies to do so. Even if fists started flying and cats started meowing and the all the records in the DJ booth stopped.

This is happening.

We are going to the motherfucking fair.

Eventually.

Someday.

In an hour... or more.

By the time we park, we're all tired. But we're here.

We are here. 

"Come on, you guys. This is supposed to be fun."

We are Womp, Womp and Womp as we drag ourselves from the back of the lot to the front gate. And then, as we step through the metal detectors and into the light, we come alive. We are moths to the fair's flame as the last ninety minutes of traffic and arguments are erased from our memory AND HERE WE ARE. THE WORLD IS OURS! EVERYTHING IS NOW AND NOW IS HAPPENING.

That's the thing about county fairs, they do not change -- it's the same old ferris wheel and goldfish game, slot car races and speedway, lemonade and cotton candy stand, gem shows and lifestock barns.

The kids point to the buckets in the sky and start jumping up and down.

"Let's take it across to the other side to where the kids stuff is."

"Alright! Let's do it!"

I buy the tickets while the kids get in line for SKYRIDE, allowing everyone behind them to skip ahead.

"We're waiting for our mom," I watch them say.

Same tickets. Same rides. Different children saying the same thing to strangers. Don't go changing, County Fair. Don't you ever change. 

I hand Archer and Fable their tickets and we hold hands and wait for the chair to scoop us up and carry us into the sky.

Archer doesn't need to hold my hand because he's not scared.

And Fable doesn't need to hold my hand because she's not scared either.

But I'm scared.

So I hold onto them.

Looking down in the light of day scares me.

In Kidsland, Fable wants to play all of the games and Archer wants to do all the rides.
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"But, Fable," I tell her. "They're all scams. Five dollars for three seconds of squirting the thing with the thing and then it's over."

"But please, Mom."

"I give her five dollars and at the end she turns to me with sad eyes."

"You were right. That was not fun."

And so, we go on a mission to find the ONE game that's actually fair. The one with the fishing poles and the fish with colors on their tails and everyone's a winner, it just depends on the size of the prize..

"This one, you can play. This one isn't a rip off. This one is FAIR."
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The kids each play two games. Fable holds onto her winnings for dear life and Archer puts his in my purse to give to Bo and Revi.

The slides are Archer's favorite and the Line Lady lets me go down, too ("five more tickets, though!") with Fable in my lap. We bury our feet in the burlap sack and scream and hurt our backs and let's do it again, momma!

We do it again.

And again.

Until I have to stop because I'm an old person.

And then I watch from the bottom as the two of them go up together. I watch their mouths move and their bodies climb the ladders, profiles like shadows as they go down one by one. I am here and they are there and they wave from the top before disappearing...
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... emerging at the bottom with "goliath" sized grins.

And then we do something else and they do another ride and another and pretty soon it's almost dark and we've done all of the Kidsland things and they want to move on...

"Can we go across, now, to the other side?" they ask.

"If that's what you want."

"We do."

So we trade our tickets for another ride in the sky except it's getting dark now and in the dark they are less fearless.

We lift off and they bury their heads in my shoulders. I put my arms around them and tell them the story about the time one of my friends dropped a flip flop onto somebody's hamburger.

"You told us that last time, Mom."
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On the other side, the world looks different. We're not in Kidland anymore and the music is loud and the guys at the game booths are practically grabbing us by the arms and dragging us toward their various gambles. The rides are erratic with buzzers and bullhorns and "back to the ground safe and sound..." The air is thick with screams and cigarette smoke and our feet stick to the ground as we make way through the crowd, my hands on the bottoms of their shirts.

It is now completely dark and the lights stripe our eyeballs with neon.

"Let's find something we can actually go on over here, okay?"

But save for the ferris wheel, all of the rides are too fast, too scary...
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"Do you want to go back to the other side?" I ask.

"Mom, no!"

"No way.

So we get in line for the ferris wheel.

It's the only one on this side of the fair we can do.

The line is long and we are surrounded on both sides by teenagers making out. The kind of making out that only teenagers do... the kind that doesn't lead to anything past second base. The kind that I used to do in line for the same ferris wheel when I was their age. Thirteen, maybe? Fourteen? Somewhere in there.

It occurs to me that my kids will be there, soon, even as they turn away and cover their eyes and ask me why everyone is kissing everywhere...

"Someday you will be, too."

"No way. Kissing is GROSS."

"Someday you will not think it's gross. Or maybe you will. We'll see. I did not think it was a gross when I was that age. I was the makey-outiest teenager ever."

"GROSS, MOM. YOU ARE DISGUSTING."

"I know. I'm sorry you have to stand in this line with me."

They roll their eyes and we try not to laugh as the make-outs become that much more intense. Like, get a room intense.

"Okay, so I was never like THIS. This is is embarrassing."

"Told you."

When we get on the ride, Archer takes one side and Fable sits practically on my lap. But our hands are together on the bar in the middle, overlapping, clawing each other on accident with nervous fingers. Up here, in the darkness, with a view of both city and sea, we're all afraid of heights. Hundreds of feet above land and lights, we grasp what we can to feel safe. We enjoy the ride and close our eyes and open them.
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After this, we'll hit up the Fun House and then Fable will get rainbow glitter hair extensions that will fall out by tomorrow and then Archer will race slot cars and win a giant checkered flag and on the way out we'll ride the carousel with the last of our tickets and grab ice cream.Vanilla for me and chocolate for him and strawberry for her.
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***
On the way home, they fall asleep in the car and I stand in the darkness of my parents' driveway and try to decide how best to wake them. Because that is the only way to get them to their beds, these days. They're too big for me to transfer but too little to wake up on their own, and it's only now occurring to me what that means.

"Open your eyes," I say, nudging them. "Wake up! Hi, wake up."

Archer is the first to wake. He unbuckles and climbs out of his seat, eyes still closed, awake and asleep all at once, skyriding between lands.

"Where are we?" he finally asks.

"We are here."
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...And come next July, through traffic and the like, we'll be back. And we'll keep coming back, year after year and it will look just like tonight because the fair does not change -- the same ferris wheel and goldfish games, slot car races and speedway, lemonade and cotton candy stand ... Don't you ever change. 
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GGC

209/100

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My sister was in town for one day last week and it was awesome, especially because we got to have ourselves a sister date out on the town with one of my old + all-time faves, (Archer's too) The Polyphonic Spree. The last time I saw The Polyphonic Spree was in 2002 and my brain promptly exploded. It was like joining a tripped-out happy-dancey-dance cult for the night. I was hooked. Fast forward to last week, twelve years later and my sister is now friends with half the band because she is in a band with half the band in Dallas, where she lives. So not only were they awesome to watch, they were also awesome to meet and holy shit, Rachel is the coolest. I felt like a crazy fangirl big sister tagging along because that is exactly what I was. Awesome. I will take it, sirs!

I took a couple short videos (see here) but the sound was less than adequate (my iPhone 4s recently died so I had to get a new one and I bought a 5s and I AM SO DISAPPOINTED. The 4s was FAR superior. Ugh ugh womp) so I'll go ahead and post this track from the new-ish Polyphonic Spree record, instead. Such a killer anthem. A download must and as always, they killed it live. Such a fun show. 


Thanks for being my hot date, Rachel. You are the coolest sister of all time.
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209. Hold Yourself Up by: The Polyphonic Spree 
(who are currently on tour! GO SEE THEM!)
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GGC

Places to Go: Chianti Life B&B, Topanga

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I just returned from three days and two nights at the Chianti Life Retreat B&B in Topanga Canyon which is where I have decided I want to retire. Not the B&B, of course, but the canyon. On a horse farm. With everyone else in Los Angeles. (I have lived in LA for fifteen years and never done more than drive through Topanga on the way to Malibu. Uh... whut.)

Anyway, the retreat.It was a birthday gift from my parents (my mom found Chianti after searching airbnb.com in Los Angeles)--a getaway for two nights to finish a a pesonal project which I was VERY close to finishing but desperate for some quiet/tranquil/alone time to do so. Which I did. (Hooray!)
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The idea was to finish my work before Saturday night so that Hal could come and meet me. I wrote at a table in the shade, a hammock in the sun and inside at night and it could not have been cozier-- or less ergonomic but, whatever.
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I started working Friday afternoon, finished around 6:00 Saturday evening and Hal arrived soon after. We had dinner out on the bridge, surrounded by trees, as Ciel served us the MOST amazing Italian feast, and we chilled like a couple of people desperate for some quality chill time.
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It was pretty special. Our stay even included live music c/o the neighbors who were singer/songwriter-ing from a tree, I'm not even kidding. (That was not included in the price of admission, mind you. Topanga is just awesome like that. People just make music in trees.)

Chianti also hosts private massage, yoga, acupuncture and meditation sessions. You can read more about all of the awesome, here. (I didn't have time to do any of those wonderful sounding things, although meditating kind of comes with the territory when you're alone in the woods for hours at a time, and writing the words THE END was about as mind/body/spirit/earth/wind/fire as it gets for this girl, especially when it started to rain immediately upon transferring FDX file to PDF.)

Anyway.

The whole weekend was blissed-out magic. Gorgeous gourmet breakfasts every morning... dinner under the stars... sleeping with the windows open and all of the sounds of nature at night. Blasting Bob Dylan and soaking in a giant tub? I mean, come on. We all need us some of that. Not to mention, Ciel, who is the most above and beyond hostess imaginable. (I wanted to move in with her. Obviously.)

Needless to say, perhaps, but I'm going to have to recommend the Chianti Life Retreat B&B with five stars. Best birthday present ever for absolute certain. Thank you, Mom and Dad.
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This candle was a gift from my brother-in-law and it's my favorite. I brought it with me and carried it around with me everywhere like a crazy person. Thanks, Russ.
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It was such a joy to get away for a minute.
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(And, because of course, to come home...)
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GGC