In the Final Stretch!

My new release, Too Many Women in the Room, is one of three contenders for a third place finish in the Affaire de Coeur Contest. The first, second, and third-place winning covers will be featured in the October online and print magazines.

I would appreciate your vote. Just click and vote here – no extra steps involved! BTW…You can vote once each day. The contest ends at midnight on Saturday, July 15.

Molte grazie!


Movie Review: A United Kingdom

A piece of untold history, beautifully presented by Director Amma Asante.

In 1947, Seretse Khama, the King of Bechuanaland (David Oyelowo) fell in love with Ruth Williams, a white office worker (Rosamund Pike). In the film, the chemistry is undeniable, but their respective families, along with the British and South African governments, challenge the union.

On the brink of launching apartheid, South Africa could not accept the idea of a mixed-race couple ruling the country to the north. The British feared they would be denied access to South Africa uranium and gold. And the risk of a South African invasion of Bechuanaland was a very real threat.

Despite the daunting opposition and scandalous headlines, Seretse and Ruth marry and travel to Bechuanaland. There, they encounter opposition from Seretse’s uncle and other members of the tribe who struggle to accept a white queen. “Do not belittle your kingdom,” warns the uncle. A skeptical woman asks Ruth: “Do you understand what ‘Mother of our Nation’ means?”

David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike deliver Oscar-worthy performances. Oyelowo’s oratorical skills command our attention, while Pike captures the essence of a woman who is confident in her love and commitment, despite the insurmountable odds.

It is not surprising that Nelson Mandela once described the legacy of Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams as “a shining beacon of light and inspiration.”

A must-see film that has relevance in our contemporary world.

Note: Bechuanaland is now Botswana.


Happy National Blueberry Muffin Day!

blueberrymuffinsBlueberry muffins make a delicious and simple change of pace for breakfast and afternoon snacks. They can be made in large batches and stored in air-tight containers or frozen for future use.

The following recipe is a family favorite and can be easily whipped up in less than an hour.

Enjoy!




Ingredients

½ cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
4 cups flour
2 cups milk
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups blueberries
Grated peel and juice of one orange

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Grease muffin tins with butter or margarine.
3. Mix oil, sugar, eggs, orange peel and juice with the electric mixer.
4. Gradually add milk, flour and baking powder.
5. Add blueberries.
6. Stir using a wooden spoon, not the mixer.
7. Drop mixture into tins.
8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Yield: 24 muffins

*Photographed by Christina Guidoccio.


Movie Review: Beatriz at Dinner

The film begins on a melancholy note.

Beatriz (played by Salma Hayek) is a holistic healer and masseuse, who lives a quiet life in California, surrounded by her pets and appreciative clients. But not all is well in her world. An adolescent client is dying, and a neighbor has cruelly strangled her pet goat.

Feeling out of sorts, Beatriz heads out to an affluent neighborhood to provide a massage for Cathy (Connie Britton). When Beatriz’s car breaks down, leaving her stranded for several hours, she reluctantly accepts a dinner party invitation from Cathy.

One of the guests, Doug Strutt (John Lithgow) mistakes Beatriz for a maid. The evening goes downhill from there. The belligerent billionaire dominates the conversation, boasting about his business acumen and game hunting, while the other wealthy guests curry his favor.

Having consumed more wine than usual, Beatriz shares her more liberal beliefs and engages in debate with Doug. A tense, uncomfortable mood envelopes the group and Beatriz eventually leaves the table. To everyone’s shock and disappointment, she later returns to sing.

At that point, I would have expected a more dramatic turn of events. Instead, the film veers in an unusual direction and then ends abruptly…too abruptly after only eighty-three minutes. Unsettled, I left the theater with many unanswered questions about Beatriz, her relationships, and her state of mind.


Happy Birthday Dalai Lama!

Today, the Dalai Lama celebrates his 82nd birthday. The recipient of numerous awards, among them the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, he continues to inspire us with messages of non-violence and universal compassion.

dalailama2

Here are ten of my favorite quotes from His Holiness…

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.

Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.

We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.

In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.

Someone else’s action should not determine your response.

Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.

Anger or hatred is like a fisherman’s hook. It is very important for us to ensure that we are not caught by it.

I always say that people should not rush to change religions. There is real value in finding the spiritual resources you need in your home religion.