Film Review: Won't Back Down

Love Life and Lollipops- Me and Aunt Bonnie right before the screening

I was invited by Circle of Moms and Fox Studios to be one of forty mom bloggers to see a private screening of Won't Back Down Thursday night. It was such an honor to be picked and so, first, thank you both for including me!! And for letting me drag my aunt, Bonnie, with me!

As for the movie: it was so soooooo good! And it couldn't have come at a better time for me.

As some of you know, I'm in the process of selling my apartment in order to move specifically because of the school district we're currently zoned for. I'm so very lucky to have the opportunity to move to a better district and provide my kids with a good public school education, but I have to say, even with all the means we have, navigating the fjords of the public and charter school options in Brooklyn has been trying and a bit disheartening. The system is complex and overly complicated and not entirely geared toward equal opportunity for all children. Lotteries and zones and classes and pronciples and tenure and overcrowding and gifted & talented programs all blur the lines...

So, what I'm saying, is that this movie struck a chord. I laughed, I cried, it resonated!

Furthermore, Viola Davis and Holly Hunter were fabulous (as was the entire cast to be honest). But I have to say: I love LOVE Maggie Gyllenhaal. She was oh so amazing in this role. She made me want to be a better mom, a better person, a bigger advocate for all that my world needs. Her character was warm and strong and sexy and sassy and she smooshed her daughter the way I smoosh mine and she yelled and screamed and I loved every second of it.

Here's the trailer:

It was seriously so good. Please go see it! And let it inspire you to change your world. It certainly did for me:)

[Love Life and Lollipops aims to provide unbiased editorials. However, I wish to disclose that from time to time I may receive free products or other compensation from companies for blogger reviews.}

Gasland Doc Worth Watching

Gasland was an amazing documentary about the sad state of affairs we are in with the natural gas industry. There has been much talk around the media these days around the subject of natural gas and hydraulic fracturing or "fracking".  There is an EPA hearing in the works about tapping into the Marcellus Shale which lies under much of New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.  The issue is that by fracking, they are inadvertently polluting water sources with the produced water (water mixed with toxic fracking fluid and sand).

Many many families are being affected and the state of ignorance and lack of caring on the part of the natural gas interests is really sad.

HBO and Josh Fox put together a fabulous documentary on the subject called Gasland.  You can get it OnDemand and totally should because Josh does a really good job about both having a good sense of humor about it and investigating the issue thoroughly.

Here's a sneak peek:

Temple Grandin: The Movie

Though Temple Grandin is not a vegan, she does have an unbelievable connection to animals and has changed the cattle industry in a profound way.  In her understanding and unique sensitivity to the cows, she changed the systems in which cattle ranchers process them.  Instead of "manhandling" them (interesting term, huh?) she devised a way to keep them calm through the process.  Previously they would experience high levels of stress and fear.  Interestingly her autism lent her a different perspective on the world and a new way to see things.

Here's a teaser:

Watch the movie.  It's worth it!  Who needs to be outdoors in this heat?!?  Pop yourself some popcorn, plant yourself in the a/c, and order Temple Grandin on HBO OnDemand.

It should teach us to be more compassionate to not only animals, but to people who are different from us and to think outside of the box.  Grandin's story is truly inspirational.

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!

Chocolate Pizza Pastries

Love Life and Lollipops- The Chocolate Pastry Ingredients

On Saturday night, we decided to stay in, cook, and watch a movie.  It was divine! We ate some pasta with cabbage and marinara from the farmer's market and garlic bread from the Bread Alone stand at the market as well.  It was simple and delicious.  Then we got Avi to bed and got It's Complicated On Demand.

The movie was hysterical and totally hit the spot.  It was light and fun and exactly what we were looking for.  The only problem: in the movie Meryl Streep's character makes these amazing looking chocolate croissant from scratch and our vegan mouths were watering.

These desserts I concocted are certainly not croissant and don't even really resemble them, but they were delicious with gooey dark chocolate on the inside and crunchy sweet pizza crispiness on the outside.

Here's how I did it:

I ordered a whole wheat pizza dough from our favorite local pizza joint.  Then I preheated the oven to 350 degrees. I floured a board and rolled it out to what was as close as I could get to a rectangle.  I cut it into rectangles and brushed each one with melted Earth Balance Organic Buttery Spread and sprinkled organic turbinado sugar on each rectangle.  Then I chopped the chocolate (vegan dark of course) into strips.  I placed a strip and the wide end of each rectangle and rolled them up trying to get the tip to stick then placed them on a greased baking sheet.  I brushed each one with some more melted Earth Balance and sprinkled with a bit more sugar.  I popped them into the oven and let them puff up and brown a bit.  Then voila: dessert!

These chocolate pastries are vegan, not too sweet, and totally delicious.

Here are my vegan chocolate pizza pastries!

A vegan missing bite?

Documentary: No Impact Man

So it's turning out that waste-free is somewhat of a theme in my week. I've had "No Impact Man" on my Netflix Instant Queue for a couple months now, but just got around to seeing it yesterday afternoon.

Colin Beavan and his wife, Michelle Conlin, and their daughter Isabella set out to live one full year entirely off the grid (environmental-impact-wise) right here in lower Manhattan and they did it!  I'm talking no chemical cleaners, no electricity (think elevators, refrigerators), no food produced more than 250 miles from NYC.  It's pretty phenomenal.

Here are some things I learned:

  • In the US, the average piece of food has traveled 1500 mi from the farm
  • The average American produces aproximately 1600 lbs of waste each year.
  • Knowing your farmer (or about his or her practices) is more important than any organic label.  Ronny from Ronnybrook Farms in NY doesn't subscribe to the "organic" labeling rules because it means he cannot treat his cows.  In the case that they get sick he cannot give them antibiotics and  so they die.

Here are some interesting things he said:

  • About 6 months into the project he has a realization: It's not about using as little as possible, but getting what you need in the most sustainable way, without hurting the planet.
  • People constantly ask: What's the hardest part? He says: It's not about deprivation or denying yourself; It's about if you can have a good life without wasting so much.
  • When asked: Do you think one person can change things? He says: The thing about individual action is it causes people to engage.
  • When talking to a group of NYU students beginning their quest to live 1 week with no environmental impact he says: The most radical political act there is, is to be an optimist; Is to believe that if I change, people will follow suit.

And there's much more where that came from.  Here's the trailer (but rent the movie!):

Water Water Everywhere Yet Not a Drop to Drink

On the plane home from Jamaica we saw yet another documentary on water wars and our current crisis.  It got me thinking...

Only 3% of the Earth’s water is freshwater.  This is something we Americans too often take for granted.  Only 20% of the world’s population has access to running water!  Around a billion (yes 1 billion people) do not have access to clean water at all!

Irena Salina’s documentary, Flow (www.flowthefilm.com), was really enlightening (and scary) for my husband, Richie, and I.  Watch it!  She’ll open your eyes to the horrible truth that clean, fresh water is being privatized in so much of this world.  Local governments are not in control of providing their populations with clean water, for-profit corporations are!  Furthermore, bottled water is not necessarily as safe as you think and some bottled waters are actually bottled tap water!  In 2007 both Pepsi and Coke admitted that their bottled waters (Aquafina and Dasani respectively) are really just tap water, not spring water!  (http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/07/27/pepsico.aquafina.reut/, http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0304-04.htm).  Bottled goes through far fewer tests as it is regulated by the FDA and is held up to far fewer regulations than tap water (which is regulated by the EPA) in many places, so check your local water source.  Environmental Working Group’s website can provide some important information on the subject: http://www.ewg.org/tap-water/welcome

Most likely, your best bet is to get yourself a water filtration system.  We have a tap on our sink, but we also have a Brita filter.

Ok, back to the Global Water Crisis.  Yes crisis! It’s difficult to feel here in our American bubble, but there are places all around the world, including very modern Israel, where fresh water sources are drying up and preservation is a necessity, not a premeditation.  Sadly the Jordan River does not even resemble the roaring flow it once was and the lands of it’s banks are not the fertile grounds they once were.  And the situation in that part of the world does not compare to what is happening in India, Kenya, or Ethiopia.

Here are some facts about the water crisis and it’s effect on children (this info is from Water.org):

  • Every 15 seconds a child dies of water-related disease
  • Children in poor environments often carry 1 thousand parasitic worms in their bodies at any time
  • 1.4 million children die as a result of diarrhea each year (can you imagine not only having diarrhea, but also having no clean water to rehydrate youself with?!?)
  • 90% of all deaths caused by diarrheal diseases are children under 5 years of age, mostly in developing countries (this makes my heart drop into my stomach and makes me wanna give Avital a big squeeze)

Water.org is doing amazing things in many of these water-poor developing countries.  Check out their site (www.water.org) to find out about their projects and much more information on the subject.  And meanwhile, you can contribute by doing a few simple things:

  1. Turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth. You could conserve up to 5 gallons of water per day.
  2. Flush less often. If you were to flush just one less time per day, you could save about 4.5 gallons of water (which is as much water as the average person in Africa uses for a whole day of drinking, cooking, bathing, and cleaning!
  3. Shorten your shower. Every two minutes you save on your shower can conserve more than ten gallons of water.  If everyone in America saved just one gallon from their daily shower, over the course of a year, it would equal twice the amount of freshwater taken from the Great Lakes every day.

So, basically doing a little can do a lot.  But I wouldn’t want to stop anyone from doing a lot!  So check out Water.org and Charity Water to get more involved in this very real and very sad situation we have on our hands!

(These pictures are both taken from water.org.  The first picture below is a young boy  taking a “bath” at the public stand post in Keelakaraikadu Village in India.  The second is of a girl collecting unsafe water from a river in Alakuabo, Ethiopia.)

www.water.org www.water.org