Guided meditation

This week I realized that January has almost passed me by and I haven't tried getting and staying centered as much as I should have. I panicked, I Googled, I Page Ranked my results.
My search was fruitful: did you know that one can download guided mediation CDs? I guess I'm not the only person who has trouble getting (staying) centered. Turns out the meditation business is a profitable industry to get into: everybody is selling soothing voices and rhythmic beats at reasonable prices to help others reach Nirvana. Sweet.

Who knew I was one download away from Nirvana?

I settled on Guided Meditation: Revitalize Mind, Body and Spirit based on cover alone and eagerly waited for it to download. It took forever.

I imported it into iTunes, I lit a (serenity) candle, and I pressed play.

A deep voice welcomed me to the serenity I was about to find and congratulated me on taking my first step towards mental revitalization.  I was told to sit with my back straight in an upright position; apparently no one finds bliss while laying in bed.

I was also informed that, due to the nature of this recording, stereo headphones needed to be used.

My guard was immediately up.

What are you going to tell me that you don't want anyone to overhear, Kelly? Don't try to subliminally message me, either. I've seen Inception. I know what's up.

I took a deep breath, plugged headphones into my iPod, and restarted track one. I had already heard the first part (about the headphones) so I fast forwarded a few minutes. I seriously misjudged how long the deep voice actually spoke, because when I pressed play again I was lost.

I restarted my guided mediation for the third time. Time passed. I closed my eyes and felt calm wash over me.  I let Kelly's voice ease me into the quiet.

Then I heard the dog whimper. I ignored it. The whimpering turned to whining.

Don't let the pig fool you; she does not want me to find Nirvana.
I opened one eye so she wouldn't notice me giving her attention and told her to shut it. Another minute passed and the whining evolved into a chair bump. Lather, rinse, repeat.

"Mommy is trying to find serenity right now, Precious. I will play with you after I'm centered."

Bang!
Bump!
Belly Rub!

I finally met her belly rub quota for the hour and relaxed back into Kelly's voice. I focused on the task at hand: I was supposed to feel how smooth the stone was. I can do that! Meditation is a snap!

That is one smooth stone! Check out how smooth this is, Kelly! Life is a garden, dig it.

Then I heard the voices.

I don't mean like 'the voices were speaking to me', I mean the horribly over-dubbed voice recording that was pasted onto the track.

It told me that I am confident, I am successful. Those are nice things to hear and all, but it would mean much more not coming from a creepy voice. I warned you about subliminal messages, Kelly! I told you not to mess with this!

I did finish the first track but I don't think guided mediation is for me. I laughed too much to really get peaceful. I was willing to follow her inside a mountain of light to ask a stone questions about my future, but I draw a line at creepers up in my headphones.

I'm a skeptic at heart, Kelly. You never had a chance.

I'm hoping my next foray into enlightenment is more successful.



If you are interested in listening to forest raindrops, click here.

Garlic Lover's Hummus Recipe

I didn't try hummus until I was in college. Kids, don't make the same mistake I did! Eat hummus! It's delicious!

Hummus can be a tad pricey when purchased pre-made. Below is my recipe for Garlic Lover's Hummus. As the name suggests, it's got enough garlic to keep Edward Cullen at bay permanently.

The overall cost of making your own hummus is pretty low. Once you've purchased all the ingredients, it will cost a little over $2 to make per batch (if that). It's also vegan friendly and really good for you.

LediaMedia's Garlic Lover's Hummus Recipe

What you need:
  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup Tahini 
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 food processor
  • Olive oil
  • Pita bread or crackers

How To Make Leah's Garlic Lover's Hummus
  1. Drain can of chickpeas and pour into food processor.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon onion powder and 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder. 
  3. Add minced garlic, 1/2 cup tahini, 1/4 lemon juice, and 6 tablespoons of water.
  4. Mix in food processor until creamy.
  5. Scoop hummus into a reusable container and chill in refrigerator. 

How To Serve Leah's Garlic Lover's Hummus
  1. Once hummus is chilled (can take four hours or more), remove from refridgerator and put into serving bowl.
  2. Drizzle olive oil on top.
  3. Serve with pita bread or crackers.

Three Different Ways to Heat Pita Bread
  1. Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 350 degrees. Wrap several stacked pita breads in aluminum foil. Heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until warmed through.
  2. Place pita bread on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high for 10 to 20 seconds.
  3. Brush both sides of a pita bread with olive oil or butter and place into an ungreased skillet over medium high heat for 10 seconds. Flip the bread with the tongs and cook on the reverse side for another 10 seconds or until the bread becomes soft and warm.
 A few tips:
  • If the hummus texture isn't creamy enough for you add another tablespoon of water as needed.
  • I use pre-minced garlic which is a sin but makes it so much easier. One 1/2 tablespoon of pre-minced garlic equals one clove.
  • You can make hummus up to two days in advance and it has a shelf-life of four to five days.

How do you like your hummus? Share in the comments below.

    Follow Friday

    Winter is in full swing. Thank God I have my Twitter stream to keep me warm. Well, Twitter and my snuggie. We are one Friday closer to Spring! Let's celebrate!

    Rave Cat wishes you a happy Friday.

    Here are my picks for this week's Follow Friday:

    @marriottmurdock: I met him during #brandchat and have come to get to know him this past month. He's incredibly savvy (in both Social Media and otherwise) and he's really smart. He's also helpful and hilarious.

    @REALChaseAdams: He is a southern gentleman, hubby, and Social Media influencer. Ask him about being an #UsGuys. He's always sharing great information and he's funny, too. Did I mention that he's a tea drinker? Check out his thoughts on auto DMs here.

    @anniezoll: She is my new Twitter crush! She's hilarious, honest, and one heck of a smart business woman. She's loves animals (ask about her cat!) and she is beloved by the Indy. If you love to cook, or in my case eat, follow her business account @ZescoProducts.

    @PrettyIndyGuide: Have you checked out PrettyIndy.com yet? I love the great beauty tips, great fashion, and great writing. Check out the 'Not Just Another Pretty Face' posts to get to know of some Indy's raddest ladies.

    @TiffanySchutt: She is one of the (many) beautiful faces from PrettyIndy.com; in fact, she's a co-founder. She loves to blog, she loves good food, and she has a positive vibe. I'd say she's one of the most fabulous women in Indianapolis, too.

    @RobbySlaughter: He's one of the funniest men on my time line. He created #PunThursday, which is a gift that keeps on giving. He's a blogger, a dog dad, and a productivity expert.

    @shaynartkerfoto: He's a photographer from Ohio and he's pretty darn good at it. He's smart and funny. What I like about him most is that he loves what he does; passion is so inspiring. You can check out some of his work at Shaynartker.com.

    @ronniedare: Every time I talk to him he's working on a new project. He's into Facebook, Twitter, website development, and Search Engine Optimization. He also talks to his followers, which I really like. Social Media is all about connecting, after all.

    @pamelareilly1: She drives a sexy red sports car and is my go-to for natural healing and wellness. She's the perfect mix of sweet and sassy, and she knows her Social Media. Shoot her a question about nutrition and natural methodologies (and much more) at @IndyHealer.

    @theAmazingBen: He's from Fort Wayne and he knows his way around the internet. He's a web designer, a comedian (I think he's hilarious!), and a blogger. He's also an Arrested Development fan.

    Feel free to check out previous Follow Friday picks. They are located on the sidebar.

    Skins US: ironically, sex doesn't sell

    I finally did it. I broke down and watched the premiere episode of Skins US.

    I did my best to stay away from it based solely on the reaction from my Twitter time line. The general reaction was a negative one and I had no desire to see why.

    Instead of watching the premiere I re-watched the first episode of Skins Vol. 1 'Tony' on Instant Netflix. I was instantly reminded why I loved this show so much; the kids are 'bad', the content is 'edgy' and the situations are 'ridiculous'. It's everything one could want in a teen drama, uncensored.

    Huge mistake. My curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to watch the US version to compare notes.

    Cast of Skin US could be breaking child pornography statutes? Say what now?

    What I saw was pretty much the exact same story line from the first episode of the BBC America series (also titled 'Tony') with several key differences.
      • Less swearing
      • Less nudity
      • Less drug use
    After 45 minutes of deja vu I sat in silence. That's it? That's it?! I felt cheated! All this hype and controversy over something I've seen before (and done better)? I expected more, considering the original series. People are upset because of something that we have seen before? Really America?

    Taco Bell pulled their ads from the series because it was too racy; the parent company of MTV asked the show to 'tone it down'; there is even a debate about future episodes breaking child pornography statutes.

    Is America really that shocked to see teenagers acting like, get this, teenagers! You may not have experimented with sex and drugs, listened to terrible R & B music and used preposterous slang when you were in high school, but that doesn't mean no one else did, either.

    As a culture we are bombarded with sexual messages. The average teenager is exposed to hundreds of sexual images daily. What older generations find racy and offensive (such as Skins) is now normal. What, you expected us not to notice? Silly rabbit.

    According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 75 percent of prime-time programs contain sexual content. Only 14 percent of those incidents mention any risks or responsibilities that go along with sexual activity.

    The first generation of BBC America's Skins, which premiered in Jan 2007.

    We use sex to sell cars and cleaning supplies but featuring it on a cable network's (copy cat) show is unthinkable! Teenagers could get the wrong idea from a show they have (probably) already seen. 

    I'm not saying I am for or against Skins US, but I will say this: our society's completely dis-ownership of sexual identity is no longer acceptable. We leave the most important 'talks' to school's with not-so-hidden agendas and television programming that doesn't reflect reality (remember that 14 percent from earlier?) and consequences. How lazy are we going to allow ourselves to get?

    Talk to teens about the reality of the themes discussed on Skins.

    '16 and Pregnant' lowered the US teen birthrate. What will an honest conversation with the youth of our nation prevent? What will it inspire?

    Puritanism is so 2010, y'all. Knowledge is power.

    If you'd like to see what all the fuss is about, you can view it on MTV.com. You'll have to enter your birth date, though. This is intended for a MATURE AUDIENCE only. The BBC America series can be viewed here.

    DIY Biore Pore Strips Mask

    Peeling off my gelatin skin is fun and gross at the same time.
    I'm not exactly the girliest of girls but every once and awhile I like to pamper myself in the comfort of my apartment and sweatpants.

    I recently Stumbled Upon an easy at-home recipe for pore strips.

    For those of you just joining us, Biore Pore Strips are those white cotton things that are around eight bucks a pop that one can buy at the grocery store to clean out one's pores. You wet them, apply them to your nose (or chin or forehead) for ten, fifteen minutes, then rip them off.

    Oh those? I love those! Being the gal on a budget I am, I was willing to spend $1.89 and experiment. Two dollars seems like a small price to pay for clean pores and baby-soft skin.

    LediaMedia's DIY Biore Pore Strips Mask

    What You'll Need
    • 1 Tablespoon of unflavored gelatin
    • 2 Tablespoons of milk (any kind will work)
    • 1 old make-up brush or popsicle stick to spread the mask on your face
    For obvious reasons clear gelatin is a must. No dyed faces, you hear me? Remember to start with a clean face for best results.

    How to Make Your Own Biore Pore Strips Mask
    1. Combine gelatin and milk into a microwave-safe dish.
    2. Mix until gelatin and milk are a paste. The mixture will have a chunky consistency.
    3. Microwave mixture for 10 to 15 seconds.
    4. Remove from microwave and test temperature on your wrist or arm. The skin on your face is the most sensitive on your body so you don't want to burn it.
    The mask will get creamier as it 'cooks' and should be applied immediately because it dries FAST.  I nuked mine for 15 seconds and had to let it cool for a tick.


    How to Use Your Biore Pore Strips Mask
    1. Use an old makeup brush or Popsicle stick to apply mask generously to entire face. Don't be afraid to really slather it on. Remember that it dries uber fast so work quickly.
    2. Let mask dry for 15+ minutes. You will know its dry when it feels like your face is going to fall off; the skin should be so tight that it hurts to talk. Beauty is pain so suck it up, sistas.
    3. When you are sure the mask completely dry, start peeling. Continue peeling, peeling, peeling. Peel even more until there is no mask left on that beautiful face of yours.
    4. Admire your fresh skin in the mirror. Voila, your pores are clean and your face feels like velvet!

    What I learned
    • Gelatin drying on my face is ticklish. Really, really ticklish.
    • It's better to use it all than not enough. I used the mixture sparingly and regretted it during the peeling stage. I didn't have enough to peel off in some areas and it was more of a scraping than a peeling.
    • Avoid your eyebrows and hairline. Gelatin is unforgiving and will rip out your hair.
    • Don't rush -- wait until it's completely, and I do mean completely, dry before you start to peel. Goop under your nails isn't going to clean out anything.

    Happy pore cleansing! 

    Social Networking and SEO: Why Engaging Boosts Rankings

    Social Networking and SEO: Why Engaging Boosts Rankings
    by Leah Beatty (that's me!)

    SEO means more than just Search Engine Optimization; it also means Start Engaging Others.

    But, why should you be engaging your employees, your customers, your potential customers, even your competition?  To boost rankings, of course!  Wielding Social Media as a tool of mass connectivity is the future of SEO.  Gone are the days of only link building on high PR pages (quantity over quality).  Say hello to SEO in 2011: connections beyond links and on-page factors. [...]

    Twitter Best Practices

    Are you a Twitter junkie?  I am. Judge me if you will, but I am obsessed.

    Because of this obsession I have become somewhat of a connoisseur of weeding out the bots and spammers from actual people and/or businesses. I've got a case of the Mondays and I can't sit stand Twitter ignorance anymore.

    Do not read on if you are easily offended.  You have been warned.


    If you display any of the following, I will not follow you back:
    1. No photo: if you are nothing but an egg, you mean nothing to me.  Use a photo of yourself; make it a recent one, too. Photos of celebrity look-a-likes don't count!
    2. No bio: Why should I follow you?  I'm looking for more than a five word description.  What's important to you? What will you be tweeting about?
    3. No tweets: You have 1890 followers and haven't tweeted a single thing? Sketchy at best. 
    If your tweets resemble the following, you will not be followed:
    • Links to the same post: you should be proud of your work, but tweeting it more than three times a day is not helping your cause. It's just adding to the noise of my time line.
    • Links to the same website: if every single post is from the same website, I will think you're a spammer.  I don't care if you work for that company; part of being a communicator is spreading all kinds of information, not just the same thing over and over (and over and over).
    • No replies or RTs: if you aren't going to 'talk' to me on Twitter, why would I waste my time on you? There are plenty of awesome tweople out there who will connect with me.
    • Only RTs: there is a better way to spread information.  Do some research.
    If you don't have a real photo I probably won't follow you, either. Sure, using your business logo may be fine, but I want to see who is behind the logo. What is your logo going to tell me?  Nothing.

    Here are some other suggestions, from my followers' hearts to yours:


     
     

    • Do not link your Twitter to Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Cater your message to the audience you want to connect with on each site.  A blanket message isn't going to cut it.
    • Asking people to follow you is tacky. Begging for RTs is very unladylike; if the content is worth sharing, I promise to do so.
    • Don't ask for RTs and favors if you don't know the person.  Twitter is about using conversation to create connections.  You wouldn't go up to a stranger on the street and ask them to broadcast your message.  The same rules of etiquette can be applied to all Social Media (not just Twitter). 
    • Not everything you think, eat, say, do needs to be 'said' out loud.

    What is missing from this list?  What are your Twitter DO NOTs?

    If you need help cleaning up your time line, I suggest Who.Unfollowed.Me (@whounfollowedme) and TwitCleaner (@TwitCleaner). I also participate in #SMManners on Twitter every Tuesday.  Transcripts of the chat are normally available on Friday.

    Special thanks to Megan, Josh, Mike, and Ben for your awesome responses!