Tag Archives: daily prompt

Inspiration in the Kitchen

29 Nov

My inspiration to blog

My blogging journey started when people would constantly ask me what I was eating as a vegetarian. As I tend to do, I would elaborate in great detail about the meals I was cooking and how easy it was to whip up a dish each night. People were fascinated that I could eat burgers, spaghetti and meatballs, burritos, and stir fry, among many other things, while all of it being completely vegetarian. They wanted the recipes and since I don’t measure ingredients and always change an already-prepared recipe, I had no way to share my passion for healthy cooking to the masses. Plus, I wanted to convey a deeper message than just passing on a recipe, which is why I try to always add a little story or more information on the ingredients in my posts. Since then, I have expanded my blogging world and started writing about other topics that come across my mind. But, vegetarian cooking is where it all really began and it is what inspired me to start a blog. Even though I like to post pictures and I write about running, it still always comes back to the kitchen.

This post is in response to WordPress’ Photo Challenge of what inspires bloggers.

You May Say I’m A Dreamer

13 Nov

The Daily Prompt at WordPress asked bloggers today to take a line from a song that we love or connect with and to make that our blog post title.

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

– John Lennon from “Imagine”

Every time I hear the song “Imagine” I either tear up or actually cry. This song has always resonated with me. The lyrics break down little thoughts that I’ve had and wondered about many times before.

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…

In my opinion, Lennon is asking what if we were to just live in the present moment and not worry about each other’s beliefs. I also wonder what it would be like if we all worked toward a common goal of peace and love, instead of arguing about who is wrong or right about their world-view.

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

We divide ourselves with imaginary borders when it’s completely not necessary, if you really think about it. It’s nice to think about no divisions and boundaries and just living in harmony.

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…

I get chills when I just read these lyrics. My grandmother has always told me that I’m a dreamer, and maybe that’s why I appreciate this song so much. I’ve always hoped for a better world and a more positive future, and this song helps me believe that there are others out there like me.

Change It Up: Moroccan Eggplant with Couscous Recipe

12 Nov


Verb: Make or become different.

Noun: The act or instance of making or becoming different.

Change is a word that is part of our everyday vocabulary, yet has developed more meaning over the course of the last four years.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

– President Barack Obama

My friend who ran the Athens half-marathon with me dedicated her race to President Obama because his message inspired her to make drastic changes with her health and life four years ago. The President isn’t the only one who is trying to create such a positive message. When Googled, the first result that comes up for the word “change” is the website for the organization change.org. Their website says:

Empowering people everywhere to create the change they want to see.

And they ask “What will you change?” That’s a wonderful question. People complain about their lives in different ways – their job, their relationships, their income, and the list goes on and on. But we all have the ability to change those aspects of our lives, right? That’s the beauty of it all – of this world and this life.

A few months ago as I was getting ready to write down my grocery list for the week, I realized I was tired of making the same old meals and needed…you guessed it…change. I decided that since eggplant had been on sale lately, I’d find an easy recipe with eggplant. I found a few that had the genius idea of steaming the eggplant in the microwave to save on time. Moroccan Eggplant with Couscous was what I created and I wanted to share it on Meatless Monday to help others make a change in their routine and choose a healthier alternative to eating meat. I have made this recipe now a dozen times, each time trying a new ingredient or a new method. This variation seemed to be the biggest hit, but please share if you find another way to make it!

Moroccan Eggplant with Couscous Recipe

  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled and cubed
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 8 oz. baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/8 cup fresh basil (optional)
  • 1 (15 oz) can chick peas, drained
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can no salt-added diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can stewed tomatoes (original recipe), undrained
  • 2 1/4 cups cooked whole wheat pearl couscous
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  1. Combine eggplant and water in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave on HIGH for 4 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add bell pepper, onion, garlic, mushrooms, and zucchini; sauté 6 minutes or until veggies are tender, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add eggplant mixture, chick peas, cumin, cinnamon, black pepper, basil, and canned tomatoes to pan; turn down to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add raisins.
  4. Serve over couscous; sprinkle with cheese.
The idea for this dish came from this recipe.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Geometry

4 Nov

When I saw the Weekly Photo Challenge was about geometry, all I could think about was my visit to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens back in May of this year. The Gardens are so visually pleasing that it allows for great photography, and this visit was all about the shapes. I used my new (new to me, but somewhat used when I bought it) Canon Rebel DSLR. I couldn’t pick just one image, so that’s why I shared all of my favorites for this challenge.

Circles at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Triangles through the Legs

Rectangular Windows

Rectangular Pond and Triangular Tree

Rectangular Pots and Windows


Rectangular Objects

Rectangular Stand for the Pots

Semi-circular Art and Square Background

Square plants and entry-way

Geometric Shapes at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Circular Lily Pads and Semi-circular Pond

Circular Flower

Circular Entry-way

Geometry at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens Entry-way

HOPE for My Future in 20 Years

3 Nov

The Daily Prompt from yesterday had a second portion to it – write a letter to yourself in 20 years. Here it goes…

Dear pushing-50 Ali:

There are things that I hope for the future, like seeing a female president in my lifetime or that there is more peace than war. But those are general wishes for a better world around me. They are things that I can’t entirely control. There are some things that I can keep in my reach and scope, which is why I’m writing this letter to the future me. I’ve outlined below some things that I hope for us 20 years from now:

I HOPE that the future me:

Has kept an awesome 401K so you are still on track to retire at a decent age. You and your husband are the type of people who can fill a day without getting bored. Remember the Snowpocalypse in 2011? Where everyone was getting bored being cooped up in their houses for a week straight, but you and Kevin were living it up? That’s probably what retirement is like and we need that.

Opted to start a family. Twenty-something Ali is not entirely thinking about this now, but one day you’re going to want children of your own that you can take care of and love.

Practiced more philanthropy, whether it’s volunteering or donating more money. You always say you’re going to feed the homeless on Thanksgiving Day or that you’re going to clean the trails in the park on the first Saturday of the month – but you never do. Twenty years is a long time to keep making false promises, so let’s stop talking the talk and start walking the walk, lady.

Eventually did more stuff on your bucket list. Hopefully, you have taken that photography class, have traveled to Europe and back to Australia, have helped Kevin play at more open mic nights because he’s an amazing musician, or have written your own cookbook with your own recipes (even if it’s crappy…I mean if Teresa from Real Housewives of NJ can do it, so can you. You’re probably trying to remember who that is, which drives home my point even further.).

I feel like those goals are attainable, so let’s look back at this letter every year and make sure things are getting done around here.

Also, one more thing, I hope your parents’ genes come into play, because when they were 50, they looked like they were 40. Hopefully you look that fabulous and are that fabulous!


You from 2012

Dear 14-year-old Ali: the Do’s and Don’ts of High School

2 Nov

WordPress does something called the Daily Prompt to get the creative juices flowing. I’ve always either forgotten to submit something, or I have been too intimidated to try it out. I liked today’s topic, so I thought I’d give it a go…

Dear 14-year-old Ali:

You have finally arrived – you are a Freshmen in High School! In case you can’t tell, I’m being sincerely sarcastic. High school years aren’t your best, but you learn a ton from this experience. Buckle up for a bumpy ride. Exciting times are ahead, but you’ll have to endure some things along the way. Here is some advice to help you out:

Don’t: For one, don’t drop out of the band. You’re a really great flutist and you could do so much more if you listen to Mom and stay the course. You’ve won all-county awards, preformed at the Governor’s Mansion for Christmas and you were first chair in middle school. Don’t move all the way to the last chair in high school. I promise that being in the band is not social-suicide like you think it is now! You’ll be disappointed in the future that you gave up the lessons and the opportunity to master a musical instrument.

Do: Embrace your nerdiness because people will appreciate it later on in life. The man you wind up marrying will dance around the house with you and make up funny songs about your animals, like you enjoy doing now. Don’t be worried about being cool because no one cares when you’re an adult. Be proud of your straight A’s and for making honor roll – you deserve the recognition!

Don’t: Don’t be afraid to date other people. The first person you fall in love with is not going to be the last. You may learn more from others, so branch out and date more. Or just hang with your friends – they’re really good people. Later on, you’re going to regret the fact that you turned down a great guy as a prom date and opted for your first love that was fizzling out anyway.

Do: Appreciate your sister being in high school with you, leading the way and introducing you to older, more sophisticated kids. She will get you rides to school, opposed to taking the bus, and you should be forever grateful for that. Your sisters will continue to be your best friends throughout life and you should appreciate the closeness of your family. Your parents and sisters are awesome, which brings me to my next point…

Don’t: For the love of God, do not yell at your family so much! You can be quite the moody teenager, so just take a chill pill and relax. You don’t realize this now, but you are really lucky to have such a supportive family and you should not take them for granted. Cherish the moments of being around the dinner table and attending family functions. These times will shape who you are. You will become independent eventually, just don’t grow up too fast and try to lean on your parents a little bit more. Speaking of being feisty, don’t take anything out on your teachers. Your 9th grade English Lit teacher is going to be one of the best teachers you’re ever going to have, and you should not – I repeat do not – throw your papers at her in a fit of rage and anger. Yes, it will go down in history with your classmates, but no it will not get you anywhere in life with that kind of behavior.

Do: Definitely join drill team, and then later on in the year follow your older sister to play lacrosse. The girls you meet on the lacrosse team are the perfect kind of misfits that you will need in high school. Don’t get me wrong, drill team is also cool and it will give you the dancing confidence that you have today. You will have a fun time with the drill team, but lacrosse is really where it’s at. Keep on running even after the lacrosse season is over. You go on to do half-marathons…I know, can you believe it?!

Don’t: You shouldn’t let people dictate what you’re going to be like in life. You are a very sensitive person and you take everything that people say seriously – you’ll learn this eventually, but just don’t take things to heart so much. Don’t let people poking at you get the best of you. When people make fun of the fact that you eat soy ice cream and soy hot dogs, just let it go. Your parents are paving the path for your healthiness in life and you wind up helping others choose healthier options when you’re an adult (not to mention, you become vegetarian, so tofu becomes a normal part of life and you should get used to it!). If you just be yourself throughout high school, which I think you’re doing a pretty darn good job at, and not care so much what people think then you will turn out alright.

You’re reading poems by Jewel right now from her book A Night Without Armor, so heed her advice:

I would always encourage people of any age not to be so quick to follow other people’s truths but to search and follow your own moral code and live by your own integrity, and mostly just be brave.

Live your own life and create your own journey.

XOXO and all that good stuff,

Yourself in 14 years

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