Wednesday’s Dose of Awesome: Pomegranates

Pomegranate

POM is right - they ARE wonderful.

It got Persephone into trouble, but the pomegranate is one of nature’s most powerful, delicious and – let it be said – awesome fruits. In addition to high levels of Vitamin C, the “Seeded Apple” (pomme granate, as translated from Middle French) also has three heart-disease-fighting polyphenols, loads of potassium, and a healthy amount of fiber.

On a personal note, I like the pomegranate as a diet food. It’s not only low in calories, but eaten the traditional way (i.e., putting on a bib and stabbing at it with a spoon to extract the exquisite ruby kernels of deliciousness) takes enough time and effort that you’re left with neither the will nor the energy to hunt down fattier snacks.

If you’re just looking to chow down, you can also dump them in a bowl, but come on, where’s the fun in that?

Delicious, low in calories, liable to indelibly stain any surface even momentarily touched by its super-powered juice…what’s not to like? For all these reasons and more, I hereby declare the pomegranate to be…AWESOME.

Now that you’ve got your afternoon snack, why not take a minute to click the SocialVibe link in the upper-right of my blog? By clicking through and writing a note to Dress for Success™ candidates, you help not only inspire women struggling to achieve self-sufficiency, but also The Art of Elysium. Make sure you click all the way through and leave your name and message so I know you stopped by (and also so your activity will count toward the art projects we’re generating for hospitalized kids...if the counter doesn’t update, your help may not have registered!!!). Thanks!

Monday’s Dose of Awesome: Phoenix Memorial Art

Today is Dia de los Muertos, or All Soul’s Day. If you’re unfamiliar with this holy day, a brief explanation of it can be found – where else? – on Wikipedia, here.

To celebrate, I thought I would share with you something both death-related and awesome, a combo not often seen outside of the films of Sam Peckinpah.

Sure, you can have an enormous holiday fiesta to celebrate those who have shuffled off this mortal coil, but what about the rest of the year? How can you keep your loved ones alive and fresh in your mind and heart? Some people take this to the extreme, but if you’re looking for a way to honor your loved one and don’t want to relegate their remains to the earth or a dusty box on the mantel, you can now have their cremated remains (or cremains, a portmanteau that resists tripping off my tongue) transformed into something beautiful and useful – ceramic pottery.

Now, before you freak out on me here, let’s take a moment to consider this. What better way to celebrate the beauty of a loved ones’ life than by the literal transformation of their remains into art? Their spirit has departed, but their body remains…is it better that they remain sealed in some ridiculously expensive steel Tupperware® for all eternity, or that the clay from which they came and to which they returned be used to craft an objet d’art, something that will beautify its surroundings and provide a very real reminder of your loved one?

Phoenix Memorial Art®

Please keep all Fawkes jokes to a minimum.

Phoenix Memorial Art specializes in this sort of memorial. The company’s founder, Marjorie Hoachlander, originally conceived of the idea when her husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Together, they came up with the idea to incorporate his ashes into a piece of artwork, one that would serve as both a cherished keepsake of her husband and a lastingly beautiful monument. Doing so apparently helped Marjorie through the process of grieving; as she says:

“I can’t begin to express how much having this lovely artwork in my home meant to me while I was adjusting to living alone. As its proximity gave me inner peace and renewed strength, I realized that I wanted to benefit others in similar ways by founding Phoenix Memorial Art.”

We all have different ways of honoring our dead. We all want to be remembered when we’re gone, and too often, I think, we minimize or ignore death in the hope that we won’t have to face the pain it can bring. To me, though, it is truly an awesome thing to honor a loved one by creating a beautiful and, yes, sacred piece of art from their remains.

Now that you’ve got a great Dia De Los Muertos opener for today’s water cooler chat, why not take a minute to click the SocialVibe link in the upper-right of my blog? By clicking through and writing a note to Dress for Success™ candidates, you help not only inspire women struggling to achieve self-sufficiency, but also The Art of Elysium. Make sure you all the way through and leave your name and message so I know you stopped by (and also so your activity will count toward the art projects we’re generating for hospitalized kids). Thanks!

People of Quality™: Recommendations from the Horde

As you may know, The Awesommolier started as an offshoot of my other Twitter handle, @LaBarceloneta. Originally, I was resistant to the #FollowFriday phenomenon, and then, as I realized its value in introducing cool folks to other cool folks (one of the nobler goals of Twitter, I think), I embraced it more ambitiously. The Awesommolier was created to act as an agent of recommendation, a persona I could adopt to say to the Faithful Horde (i.e., the amazing group of people who follow me as @LaBarceloneta) “Oi, follow this one, they’re good for a laugh!”

The Awesommolier has expanded to nouns beyond the original Tweeters I originally endorsed, but in the spirit of its creation I’m going to move my #FollowFriday recommendations here, pared down to a mere three a week, with the reasons I follow them (and why I think you should, too).

So, with that in mind, I present this week’s People of Quality™!

This is the man they call Irant.

Irant

I first met Kevin (or “Ranty” as I call him) via a series of sarcastic exchanges on “The Twitter.” Eventually, I discovered he is one of the few souls able to deftly combine marketing pizazz with a genuine dedication to altruism as well as commerce.  Follow him for funny and informative tweets that help connect people looking to make a difference.

Fleurdeleigh

Fleurdeleigh

Leigh is an amazing photographer and super-positive. She elevates twitter beyond conversation to interaction. In her own words she is “75% photog, 3% uberdork, 92% adoring wife and mom, 2.7% mathmatically inept, 12% blogger, 9% superhero, 3% spy,” but in my book she is 100% awesome!

Megan

Megtastic1521

Megan writes an epistolary blog called “Love, Megan” that is well-written and hilarious. She’s guest-posted on my other blog, Claire De Lunacy, and is, among other things, a super-nice person. Follow her for funny, sincere conversation.


Now that you’ve met some awesome new friends, why not take a minute to click the SocialVibe link in the upper-right of my blog?
By clicking through and doing a little “trick or treating,” you help not only The Art of Elysium but the other charities sponsored. Make sure you click “I’m finished trick-or-treating” when you’re done, and leave your name and message so I know you stopped by (and also so your activity will count toward the art projects we’re generating for hospitalized kids). Thanks!

Thursday’s Dose of Awesome: Chikuno Cubes

He iz, 'ow you say, "Steeenky."

Why must he be like that? Why must he chase the cat?

I have a very powerful and sensitive olfactory system. This is why I often say things like “Whoa, did you change fabric softeners?”  or “Went camping three days ago, huh?” that make people either laugh or back away nervously, hand already reaching for the panic button on their cell phones.

But I digress.  The point is, I am sensitive to unpleasant aromas, and will go to great lengths to avoid and/or remove them.

Leftovers stinking up the fridge? Your significant other thinks the floor next to the hamper is the same as the hermetically-sealed hamper? Zombies roaming the garden, polluting your morning tea with the stench of reanimated evil?

Previously, I would accomplish the removal of stubborn scents like these with bleach, baking soda, and/or cleansing fire, but now I rely on these lil’ guys:

Chikuno Cubes, ready to freshen up your digs

Such mighty power in such tiny cubes!

Chikuno Cubes are made from bamboo charcoal, arranged in a honeycomb matrix that exponentially multiplies the odor-absorbing surface area of the cubes…in fact, one 2″ cube has a surface area equal to FOUR FOOTBALL FIELDS.

According to the vendor’s site, these tiny wonders work best in small areas like a closet, fridge, or car…you’re gonna need a few more if you’re out to de-stench your local abbatoir or Wal-Mart.

Now that your digs are as fresh as the proverbial daisy, why not take a few moments to participate in the SocialVibe link in the upper right of my blog? By clicking through and doing a little “trick or treating,” you help not only The Art of Elysium but the other charities sponsored. Make sure you click “I’m finished trick-or-treating” when you’re done, and leave your name and message so I know you stopped by (and also so your activity will count toward the art projects we’re generating for hospitalized kids). Don’t be a stinker, give a sick kid the gift of art today!

Wednesday’s Dose of Awesome: Original, Adorable Orisinal

Things that are cute are not, as a rule, worthy of the “awesome” designation in themselves.  For example, the following items are NOT awesome, although they are indubitably precious/adorable/diabetes-inducing/violations of the health code:

TINY ANIMALS INEXPLICABLY PLACED IN RANDOM CONTAINERS

Meow!* *Translation: Get me the hell out of here!

I'm not sure I'll be visiting this cafe again.


BABIES DRESSED AS ANYTHING OTHER THAN BABIES

Yikes. Just....yikes.

Later in life, Rocky found himself searching for something he'd really enjoy.

BABIES DRESSED AS THINGS OTHER THAN BABIES AND PLACED INTO A RANDOM CONTAINER

Lobster baby ahoy!

Despite years of therapy, Lisa was never able to enjoy a hot bath.

Occasionally, however, something comes along that is both endearingly cute and imbued with the elusive trait we call Awesome. One of those things is Orisinal.com, the brainchild of Ferry Halim, an artist and designer living in Fresno, California. The site’s been around for a decade or so now, but the 60-odd Flash games available for free on the site have made it enduringly (and endearingly) popular with fans of what are now called “art games.

The Orisonal Arsenal

I dare you NOT to have fun. Well, not literally. Don't break a sweat or anything.

There’s a lot of fun on hand – all of the games are beautifully rendered, with great soundtracks and an engaging, charming design that practically begs you to blow off your TPS reports and spend your entire day exploring. Halim calls the site his “personal playground,” but there’s fun to be had for all. His garden of adorable awesomeness is totally free, but you can (naturally) visit the shop if you’re sufficiently taken with any of the games and want a keepsake.

Personal favorites include: Winterbells, The Crossing, and (thanks to its jazzy music, tea-related theme and, yes, tiny animals) A Daily Cup of Tea.

In between rounds of Snowbowling, why don’t you take a few minutes to click on the Art of Elysium link in the upper right? Completing an activity provides TEN art projects for hospitalized kids, one of whom may grow up to be the next Ferry Halim. Awesome is as awesome does – click through and give a sick or injured child the gift of art today!

Tuesday’s Splendiferous Awesomeness: Pink Martini Leaves Me Shaken, Stirred

Splendor in the Grass

"Splendor" is the only word for it, my friends.

If you’re one of the poor unfortunate souls who has yet to hear a Pink Martini album, I both pity and envy you. Pity, because you have been missing out on a source of serious Awesomeness; envy, because there’s nothing quite like hearing them for first time.

On the other ear, er, hand, if you’re already a fan of the best thing to come out of Portland since Sam Elliot’s elaborate mustachios, then you, like me, will squeal with glee today, the release date for their new album Splendor in the Grass.

In the words of bandleader Thomas Lauderdale, “this album is all about participating in the world…being part of it, being out in the street and finding moments of incredible breathtaking splendor in the activities and unfoldings of every day.”

In addition to China Forbes’ elegant, stirring cover of the titular song, highlights for me include: a sprightly instrumental, “Ohayoo Ohio;”  the fantastic two-song conversation between the fed-up Maria and philandering Lorenzo (“And Then You’re Gone” and “But Now I’m Back”), which is made even more exquisite by the recording debut of NPR’s own Ari Shapiro as Lorenzo;  a cover of “Sing” that elevates it far beyond its Sesame-Street roots while still evoking its happy energy; and the moving, gloriously fragile recording of “Piensa en Mi” by the nigh-deified ranchera singer Chavela Vargas (a ground-breaker in many ways, and an amazing artist and inspiration in the LGBT community).

If you’re a fan of intelligent and thoughtfully-written music accompanied by witty, charming lyrics, do yourself a favor and get this album today (There’s also an import available with a bonus DVD for my fellow completionists out there).

NB: Neophytes, while there’s nothing wrong with starting with this album, if you want to gain a deeper appreciation of a truly multicultural and powerfully moving “little orchestra,” be sure to check out their other albums as well (“Hang On Little Tomato” is where I came in, and “U Plavu Zoru” remains one of my favorite songs to this day).

While you’re listening to your new album, why not click on the Art of Elysium link at the far right? You can complete a few activities and help bring music, art and fun to kids convalescing in hospitals nationwide. It only takes a few moments of your time, but to a sick kid, it can bring hours of fun. Thanks!

Monday’s Dose of Awesome: Whoo-hoo (ga)!

Free boots = Awesome

Free boots = Awesome

Ah, the Ugg boot. For some, it is the epitome of comfort and cool. For others, it is a passe trend best left to the fashion-challenged (a fact for which we can thank the legions of starlets apparently unable to wear anything else on their feet). However, regardless of your viewpoint on these iconic boots, the ones I’m writing about today are infused with awesome purely by virtue of being FREE.

For those of you not acquainted with your boot history, Ugg boots have been made and worn in Australia for over 200 years. They’re usually made of Merino sheepskin and fleece, which gives them exceptional softness and a “comfy” factor that belies their name (which is Australian slang for “ugly”).

As time has passed, however, “Ugg Boot” has gone the way of Kleenex, Jell-O and Peter Frampton (ok, not that last one), with the copyrighted term slowly devolving into the general term for all items of its type.

Which brings us to WhoogaBoots. These are ugg-style boots that feature something called ThermoFleece™ technology. Now, as I am not a scientist (I merely play one on TV and at poorly-guarded laboratories), I will not attempt to deconstruct the amazing scientific properties of ThermoFleece™; instead, I will present this simple formula:

Your feet + ThermoFleece™ = Toasty toes of happiness

And now, you can win a pair of your very own, every single precious month, by entering the contest being hosted over at WhoogaBoots.co.uk. You can also learn about Ugg Boot myths (I’m picturing theories about whether Sasquatch wears Uggs, or how the Loch Ness Monster is actually a rogue Ugg on an overturned boat), get maintenance tips, and, of course, decide how you will say the word “whooga” when describing your boots to friends (I recommend a tugboat-whistle sound accompanied by arm-tugging motions).

Here’s the link to the contest: WIN FREE WHOOGA BOOTS!

Having made your play for some free foot loot, please take a moment to click the link on the right-hand side of this page. The Art of Elysium is a GREAT (dare I say, awesome) charity that provides art projects to sick and injured kids in hospitals nationwide. Just by clicking through and completing an activity, you can provide art projects (and, by extension, fun, education and much-needed stimulation) to kids who are, in many cases, far from home, trapped in a hospital bed with nothing to do. Remember, the most awesome thing you can do is help someone else!