Tuesday, December 23

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Well, once again, the epic story has come to an end. I realized that I too had an adventure just by going to see these films, and not how one would think. Each of these Hobbit film I have seen in different States across America. The first one was in California, the second was in Michigan, and the third was in Pennsylvania. Or as Aaron put it, "You went on adventures to see adventures!" So indeed I did, and I enjoyed it very much so. I even braided Aaron's hair, so he was definitely sporting an elven look. It was fun to see the movie with him, because he likes the franchise as much as I do, and we had a great time.

I saw The Desolation of Smaug in IMAX 3D, so I knew that I wanted to do that again because it was better than standard viewing. Unfortunately though, this time around, I didn't have a good time with the chairs. They were too tall, so I got to see a row of heads all across the bottom of the screen, which completely detracted from my experience. I was also wearing my glasses, which was the first time that I tried to wear glasses with the 3D glasses. Not a good idea at all, and I should have worn my contacts as usual, because I spent a lot of time readjusting them throughout the film.

Overall this final film was really enjoyable. It would have been nice to have read the book so that I knew what was canon and what was Peter Jackson, because I found myself pondering that many times. Smaug was resolved so quickly that it was surprising, and the duration of this film was based around the battle (I probably should have guessed that because of the title). I don't like war films, and nowadays I've grown to even dislike fantasy violence. So as I sat there and realized this, I thought to myself how much I've changed, and that I just don't find this sort of thing to be entertaining anymore. Perhaps a past, more immature, Claudia was aroused by the action and cool cinematography, but now I can't look past it anymore. War, gore, and violence sucks. So in future I will be more selective with how I spend my time, which is unfortunate because I rather do like Tolkein's world. 

On that topic, Aaron did have a theory about war and violence relating to food, and he was wondering if war coincided with people becoming more aggressive because they were not eating properly. Eating meat makes a person more aggressive and an imbalance in the brain occurs when one is malnourished with such food. It was an interesting parallel for sure, and I too wonder if my lack of interest in violent subject matters has anything to do with my improved brain health over the last few years. Eating cleanly and healthy surely changes the way one views the world.

Aside from that, the story was intriguing, and I found it to be rather unpredictable. I thought that some of the characters were narrow minded and shallow. Again, this made for an interesting story, but I didn't foresee that at all! Thorin was so power hungry and Thranduil was quite the Sass Master. Overall, it did wrap up rather nicely, and it was neat to finally see Bilbo sitting and recalling the story again at Bag End. I also appreciated the credit sequence brimming with concept art from Alan Lee and John Howe. Their drawings are exquisite, and it made me smile ear to ear to see their lovely work up on the big screen.

Happy movie watching!

Monday, December 22

A Guide to Seasonal Winter Produce

California grows about 80-90% of all fruits and vegetables in America, so one can see why these seasons are important. Even if you don't live in California or go to local farmer's markets, this guide can be helpful to anyone that purchases produce from the U.S. Not only does food taste amazing when in season, but purchasing these plants in season also helps sustain a healthy earth because the farming is in tune with nature.

So without further ado, these are some of my favorites that I like to eat in the wintertime. They nourish me, and I love going to the markets because I know when I'm suppose to be eating what. If it's at the market then it's in season, and this is also a great way to get the freshest, best-tasting produce year round. It also makes one's diet interesting, because I can't wait to have it again when that time of year comes around.


Here are my winter favorites:

Asian Pears - Used in vitamin water, eaten raw, blended for a salad dressing, sliced on salads, blended in smoothies, juiced, frozen as popsicles, and dried for snacks. A great source of vitamin C, K, fiber, magnesium, potassium, copper, and are high in water content. They're also amazing at healing wounds, maintaining strong teeth, and promoting healthy blood pressure levels.

Mandarins - Used in vitamin water, juiced in sauces, eaten raw, juiced in a salad dressing, sliced on salads, blended in smoothies, juiced, frozen as popsicles, and dried for snacks. A great source of vitamin A, B6, C, E, calcium, fiber, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and are high in water content. They're also wonderful for weight loss, maintaining a healthy immune system, and improves the skin tone.

Oranges - Used in vitamin water, juiced in sauces, eaten raw, juiced in a salad dressing, sliced on salads, blended in smoothies, juiced, frozen as popsicles, and dried for snacks. A great source of vitamin A, B6, C, calcium, fiber, magnesium, iron, potassium, protein, copper, phosphorus, niacin, and are high in water content. They're also good for the kidneys, fighting against viral infections, and keeping the heart healthy.

Lemons - Used in vitamin water, juiced in sauces, eaten raw, juiced in a salad dressing, sliced on salads, blended in smoothies, juiced, frozen as popsicles, and grated for zest. A great source of vitamin A, B6, C, calcium, fiber, magnesium, iron, potassium, and copper. They're also fantastic for maintaining beautiful skin, weight loss, and soothing toothaches.

Kiwis - Used in vitamin water, eaten raw, sliced on salads, blended in smoothies, juiced, frozen as popsicles, and dried for snacks. A great source of vitamin A, B6, C, E, K, calcium, fiber, magnesium, iron, potassium, protein, copper, phosphorus, niacin, and are high in water content. They're also fabulous for boosting the immune system, a sleep aid, and maintaining beautiful skin.

Cabbage - Used in sauces, chopped in soups, as a garnish, chopped in salads, and blended in smoothies. A great source of vitamin B6, C, K, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. It's also brilliant at preventing cancer, protecting the skin against aging, and keeping bones strong.

Dandelions - Used in sauces, eaten raw, chopped in salads, blended in smoothies, and juiced. A great source of vitamin A, B6, C, E, K, calcium, fiber, magnesium, iron, potassium, copper, phosphorus, and omega-6 fatty acids. They're also excellent for detoxify the liver, calming inflammation, and helping to maintain a healthy immune system.

Brussels Sprouts - Used in sauces, blended or diced in soups, lightly cooked, sliced on salads, blended in smoothies, and juiced. A great source of vitamin A, B6, C, E, K, calcium, fiber, magnesium, iron, potassium, protein, copper, phosphorus, niacin, and omega-3 fatty acids. They're also outstanding for maintaining proper digestion, lowering cholesterol, and cancer prevention.

Celery - Used in sauces, eaten raw, chopped in soups, as a garnish, in salads, blended in smoothies, and juiced. A great source of vitamin A, B6, C, K, calcium, fiber, sodium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and is high in water content. It's also incredible at lowering blood pressure, treating joint pain, and maintaining a healthy nervous system.

Carrots - Used in sauces, eaten raw, grated in dips, sliced in soups, lightly cooked, as a garnish, sliced on salads, blended in smoothies, and juiced. A great source of vitamin A, B6, C, E, K, calcium, fiber, magnesium, iron, potassium, copper, phosphorus, niacin, and omega-6 fatty acids. They're also terrific for whitening teeth, improving vision, and preventing infection.

Dill - Used in sauces, minced in dips, chopped in soups, as a garnish, in a salad dressing, minced on salads, blended in smoothies, and juiced. A great source of vitamin A, B6, C, calcium, iron, and potassium. It's also phenomenal for protection against aging, maintaining healthy bones, and strengthening the immune system.

Ginger - Used in sauces, in vitamin water, minced in dips, blended in soups, as a garnish, in a salad dressing, minced on salads, blended in smoothies, and juiced. A great source of vitamin B6, C, E, fiber, magnesium, iron, potassium, manganese, and omega-6 fatty acids. It's also awesome for maintaining colon health, strengthening immunity, and reducing pain.

Check out these other guides as well:

♡ Claudia

Monday, December 8

Look of the Month :: Winter 2014 :: December

Oh the weather outside is frightful... but I love it! December is one of the only months that I really appreciate cold weather, because it makes the holidays better. It's nice to snuggle up with loved ones, and share our time together. So to celebrate that gratitude, I've created a holiday digital face chart for the month. This is something super simple that one can wear out shopping, or it's even sultry enough to sport at a fancy party. As always, have fun with it, and enjoy this festive time of year.

The current look is:
D E C E M B E R  2 0 1 4


Color trends for this month:
Meringue pink, red, ivory, black, and yellow gold

Current motivation for the look:
 Holiday glamour, the East Coast, and new-found love


Previous Looks this Year:

J A N U A R Y  2 0 1 4

F E B R U A R Y  2 0 1 4

M A R C H  2 0 1 4

A P R I L  2 0 1 4

M A Y  2 0 1 4

J U N E  2 0 1 4

J U L Y  2 0 1 4

A U G U S T  2 0 1 4

S E P T E M B E R  2 0 1 4

O C T O B E R  2 0 1 4

N O V E M B E R  2 0 1 4 
 
Please feel free to express yourself as well! Share links, tips, or any other suggestions in the comments. I would love to hear from you.

 xoxo,
~Claudia

Thursday, December 4

Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate

Oh DOA, how I love thee. I remember playing the hell out of DOA3 when I was in college and I loved that game to death. It was the first 3D fighter that I actually had the courage to play. For some reason, I was intimidated by fighting games. Probably because I wanted to win, and it meant a lot to me. Obviously I've gotten over that, and now I can play without being so serious.

So Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate was awesome, and I had good fun with it, all though it's pretty much the same game. I didn't want it to change too much though, so I appreciated the nostalgic fun that I got out of playing the series again. It's something that simply can be enjoyed over a single weekend with friends.


So here are my thoughts about the game:

Pros

- I absolutely loved the new art direction. The realist take on things really suits the characters and I don't miss the anime look at all. Well done team, and it's the main reason that I wanted to play this game. The textures and models were incredible. Even the makeup and color palettes on the female characters were so appealing. It made me want to recreate a few of their looks for myself.

- Like most fighters these days, dirt and sweat are a must. So I loved that it was incorporated into the game this time. I always appreciate the little details that help bring a game to life.

- The new characters were awesome. Rig was surprisingly so fun to play. I liked his style, but Marie Rose was hands down my favorite from the new characters (she still didn't hold a candle to Kasumi, my main). I liked that they made her more "modest" as well, if you get what I mean. Oh, DOA girls, you're all ridiculous.

- The story was so bad that it was good. I mean it was really bad, even for a fighting game story. It's always the same too! I must confess though that I was thoroughly entertained, so it counts as a pro.

- The new stages were very cool. The interaction in DOA stages have always been a reason to play this series. I remember, aside from the sexy characters, that this was the main reason that DOA was appealing. It always feels so good to smash someone into a wall! 

- Helena's little French accent was awesome. Enough said. I would giggle every time I heard her speak, and then tried to imitate her. Oh, how cute!


Cons

- The DLC in this game was such a cash grab. I really felt like all of it was a little pointless. The days of all of the content being on the disc are over.

- I do love the realism, but Kasumi's hair almost looks brown. I wish that they pushed the carrot hue a bit more, because she's losing that iconic red. A small detail, I know, but it was missed.

- Most of the costumes in this game were terribly generic. They looked like cheap Halloween fetish costumes. There was so much room for improvement regarding this, and it's too bad, because there's a lot of potential for some amazingly fantastic designs. 

- I couldn't counter in this game to save my life! I know that this was my problem, but it seems like ever since they made the counter window in 4 smaller, I've struggled to pull of decent countering. Oh well, I don't have time to practice, so I just miss my easy counter system in 3.


There you have it! If you like the franchise, it's definitely worth picking up for a few months of solid fun. I really don't compete anymore, so for the most part fighting games are something that I'm just nostalgic about these days.

Happy gaming,
~Claudia

Wednesday, December 3

Why Is Eating Healthy at Restaurants So Challenging?

When Aaron and I were traveling across America together we knew that we would have to face some unique challenges regarding food. Like me, he's very healthy and sticks to a vegan diet (with the exception of holidays, our anniversary, and birthdays). We were excited to try new things, and stop into cool places during our travels. So restaurants were definitely an option, and it was fun while it lasted.

Then we realized that over time we weren't feeling so good. We struggled with low energy, and even started to breakout a bit. What was happening! Well, come to find out, it was the food. What we thought was fresh and vegan, truly was not. We ordered baked potatoes, only to find out that they were probably cooked in cheap oil. Soup that we thought was vegan clearly had sour cream in it, followed by frozen broccoli that looked decades old. Then lastly, the final straw that broke the camel's back, was a salad that we wanted to order with a lovely fat-free tomato basil dressing. Doesn't that sound fantastic? Well, we thought so too, but we knew that it was probably too good to be true.

We asked the waitress what was in the dressing, and she was kind enough to rip off the label for us. We were absolutely shocked! Take a look for yourself.

The dressing was laden with chemicals and processed ingredients. This isn't food.

Seeing this made us realize what we were doing. It was not acceptable, and gaping over the label was a way of removing the blinders. From then on, we stuck to buying raw organic produce from grocery stores along the way. It was definitely the best option because we could control what we were eating once more.

Our cells are created by the food that we give them. Think of it like building blocks, and whatever is given to the body will be utilized. For us, our bodies are a sacred part of who we are, and despite the fact that Aaron and I might have craved comforting cooked foods out in the cold, it just was not worth it. It takes 7-10 years for the body to completely rebuild itself. A whole new you, if you will. Who do you want to be? This is the question that we pondered while traveling, and it helped us to make better choices.

Now, there are some amazing vegan and raw food restaurants out there. We just didn't get so lucky as to find them during this particular adventure. It will take more research and planning regarding that, and I look forward to enjoying some better meals out there on the open road.

Cheers and here's to happy, healthy living.
~Claudia

Monday, December 1

Across America with Claudia

Greetings! This is Aaron, and today I am honored to make my first contribution to the blog for you all.

Claudia and I first met online in early 2012,
and ever since that moment, we have both grown immensely. Through that, we have learned what we truly want in life, and I couldn't be happier to announce that the beautiful possibilities we see are founded on the love that has always existed between us; the Truelove that continues to strengthen with each day. Thank you for being you, Claudia. I love you.

Soon after Claudia and I began corresponding, we had discussed our shared desire to travel; how wonderful it would be to move freely and behold the splendor that Nature provides us all.

This past November, we finally had the opportunity to do just that. On the 11th, I flew out to the San Fransisco Bay Area to stand before Claudia for the first time without relying on an internet connection, and to begin a new chapter (a unified chapter that reflects the singular life that we now live together). That new chapter began with a celebratory visit to the San Leandro Marina, where I was able to experience a taste of the beauty Claudia had been enjoying for many years, but she had already decided that the time had come to turn the page. So before too long, we weighed anchor and began heading East.

As this was our inaugural journey, Claudia thought it best to remain present and in the moment by leaving the new camera in its wonderfully protective case for the duration, and I heartily agreed. We do plan on sharing images of our future ventures about the beautiful green and blue marble we call Earth, but this adventure was for us this time around. Our transcontinental path took us from the Bay Area to Pennsylvania via Interstate 80, until Davenport, which lies on the Mississippi River, between Iowa and Illinois. We then opted to take the more southern route to Wheeling, WV before heading to our destination.

The weather quickly became colder as we crossed out of California into Nevada, and on the plains of the Midwest it became downright bitter. Despite the cold, we completed our quest within a week's time as we had planned. In the future we will be allotting ourselves more time to take in the sites, as we now have a few places that we would very much like to revisit. There will always be more to see, and as fluid as life is, we will see where we find ourselves next. The world offers every one of us a wonderful abundance of experiences, and so we must embrace the courage to find as many as possible.

The paths that Claudia and I have been walking before may have been quite different, but they both led to the same door. Although that gateway may have represented a unique challenge for each of us, we chose to walk through it together, and we have been rewarded with the memories of a wonderful experience that we shared: A preview of all the potential in our new life.

- Aaron -

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