Saturday, February 21, 2015

Movie Review: Exodus: Gods and Kings



The story of Moses is a familiar one. I remember the old TV movie The Ten Commandments playing every year as the back drop to my family celebrating Easter at my grandfather's house. Later, there was an animated adaptation, which I enjoyed watching. It had a very good soundtrack. So, I was quite surprised when, recently, my mother wanted us all to go out and see Exodus: Gods and Kings. If anyone knew the story of Moses inside and out, it was us. So why would we spend money to go and watch it again? I am going to tell you why.

This movie spends a lot of time focusing on Moses and Ramses II. Focusing on them as people, reacting to the situation that they have found themselves in. Two brothers in staunch opposition to one another. Personally, I like the take on Moses that this film presents. Here you have a man, raised Egyptian, a prince and general, farming goats. The entire movie, you see a push and pull relationship Moses has with God, which is very different from prior adaptations. Moses is normally shown as being very accepting from the moment he encounters God on the mountain.


This film makes the character of Moses feel more human to me. He struggles with putting away what he once had to transition into the leader of a people he barely knows. I also like the fact that the film creators chose to give a face to the voice of God, rather than making Him an invisible presence. A face gives the conversations an extra something that a disembodied voice cannot.

The only negative thing I have to say about this film is that there were sections that felt rushed. One scene in particular is where Ramses is talking to Miriam about Moses. There was little setup for that scene and I felt we were simply to accept what was happening because we knew it had to happen. We know there is a huge climatic ending and only 2 hours to get there. So, certain scenes have to happen in order to progress, no matter if they flow seamlessly into the story line or not.


Exodus: Gods and Kings is a good movie. It takes a familiar story and re-imagines it into something new and different than its predecessors. I enjoyed watching it.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Product Review: Shea Moisture African Black Soap



My sister is always finding new  things for us to try. This time she found the body wash and lotion product line by Shea Moisture. The first one we tried was African Black Soap.

I have to say, it was quite different from my every day body wash (wish is usually Suave or something scented that I pick up from Walmart.) so I was really eager to give this a shot. After a few uses, there were several pros and one major con.


First pro, after bathing with the body wash, my skin felt super soft. And this was after one use. Anything that can do that is amazing, in my eyes. The body lotion was thicker than I had expected. It was more like a body butter than a lotion. After my struggle with trying to squeeze it out of the bottle, I just removed the top. The lotion did everything that it claimed it would. My skin was soft and moisturized all through the night and into the next day.

The major con? I was not a fan of the scent. The African Black Soap product has more a cologne like fragrance that I wasn't too fond of. It wasn't offensive enough to make me stop using, mind you. I still bathed in the body wash every day and used the lotion every night. So the scent wasn't assaulting. It just wasn't my favorite.

I really like the Shea Moisture line of products. However, I do not think I would buy this particular product again. However, my sister did send me some Coconut Hibiscus. That sounds like it is more up my alley.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

30 Day Workout Challenge: Day 11 - Injured. Now what?

Some days I feel like I have the most injury prone set of ankles and knees on this planet. This issue is not anything new. I have been banging my knees up since high school and turning my ankles since college. So, when I start going full tilt during workout sessions, I am always concerned about injuries.


My first mode of action is trying to prevent injury at all costs. I wear supportive shoes as much as possible. And not just during exercise, but in my every day comings and goings as well. I have invested in decent braces and wraps over the years. So if anything does feel a bit out of sorts, I just brace it or wrap it up for a few hours and take it easy. Most importantly, I rest what is hurting. Sometimes pain is a sign that you need to slow down a bit and recuperate. But what do you do if you have already injured yourself? 


This used to be the death card for my exercise regimen. I would get into a good exercise routine and then suddenly everything would come to screeching halt because I hurt my ankle or my knee. I would tell myself: "Hey, no problem. I just sit out a week and then get right back up on that horse once I feel better." But that would never happen. For some reason, that much time out of my exercise routine would end everything. I kept saying, "I'll go back to the gym tomorrow" and tomorrow never came.

So instead, the better idea is to change up exercises. Instead of doing normal cardio workouts, I should have switched to something that would let me workout without putting any weight on my injured joint. There have been no injuries for me as of yet (Thank God), but I have noticed my ankle ache once already. Instead of sitting out, I came up with something else to do. I traded in my Zumba for an ab intensive workout. This way I didn't fall out of routine.


Minor injuries doesn't mean that you are forced to quit altogether. It just means that you need to be creative with how to workout in the safest way possible.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

30 Day Workout Challenge: Day 5 - I'm Tired

I am nearing the end of my first week of this challenge and so far, everything is going well. I wake up in the morning, get my work out in, eat breakfast and start my day. However, Day 4 did bring about a bit of a problem. I was extremely tired.

My pillows were whispering in my ear.

It wasn't the kind of tired you get from not sleeping enough. This felt different. After 3 days straight of Zumba and Taebo, my body physically felt like it just couldn't take another morning of me jumping, kicking and dancing about. I thought about just rolling over in my bed and calling it a rest day, but Frankie had a better idea. Why not do something with a lower intensity instead?

So yesterday, I put my cardio DVDs aside and pulled out my New York Ballet workout DVD. Something that I have not touched in years. Surprisingly, it was exactly what I needed. I got my workout in, but I didn't feel like I was going to drop on the floor when I was done. I got the chance to have a more relaxing workout session (if there is such a thing). One that my body was able to handle. Aside from the fact that I am no where close to being as flexible as those guys in the video.


 I am going to have cardio days and non-cardio days on rotation from now on or else I am going to wear myself out before the 30 days are up. Plus, having days where I do yoga, pilates, or exercises in that vein will probably help any sore or tight muscles I get from bouncing around during my higher intensity workouts.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

30 Day Workout Challenge


So, January went by really fast. New Year's feels like last week. And this is usually the point where keeping those promises you made to yourself at the beginning of year start to slip. So, I decided to do a workout challenge.

Keeping an exercise regimen has always been a tough thing for me to do. Without fail, my plans always seem to fall apart at day 3. I don't know what it is about day 3, but that is what happens. It wasn't always like this. I used to keep a decent workout schedule. And it would happen when I was motivated and/or had an exercise partner that was motivated as well.


So, why am I doing this 30 day workout challenge? I feel that something like this would be a good kickstart for getting back into the groove of having (and keeping) a workout schedule. Plus, committing to something for 30 days feels less daunting and intimidating. Why am I making this public? Why not keep this to myself? Two words: Support and accountability. When I had a exercise partner, I was more likely to go to gym, because I knew that she would be waiting for me. I knew that I couldn't slack off if she wasn't slacking off. Seeing her putting in the time and effort made me put in the time and effort as well. This is me making the virtual equivalent of that relationship. Putting myself out there, so that I have someone who is waiting for me to clock in.

What if you want to join me on this journey? Well, first off, you are awesome. Thanks for considering it. The rules are simple. (I like simple). The goal is to work out 4-5 days/week for 30-45 minutes. The start date is Sunday, Feb 1st. I am going to do a lot of tweeting for the next month while this is happening. If you wish to follow me, my Twitter handle is @desnarose



I'm a bit excited about this next month. Yes, I know it is going to be challenging. And some days are probably going to down right suck. But, I'm ready. Let's do this.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Kitchen Adventures! - Spicy Rice and Eggplant casserole

More Kitchen Adventures! This time with eggplant. I can honestly say that eggplant is not a vegetable I'm familiar with when it comes to cooking. My mother attempted an eggplant parmesan once. It didn't really go over that well. After that, we never saw another eggplant on our dinner plates ever again.


Preparing the eggplant for frying

Recently, I decided to try eggplant again. Most of the recipes I came across involved breading, cheese and pasta, but that was not the kind of recipe I was after. After some more searching, I came across a rice and eggplant dish that caught my attention. The casserole was made of fried eggplant slices with a mixture of rice, tomato, onions, green peppers and a white sauce layered between. It sounded simple enough. Sounded being the operative word in that sentence. I was not prepared for what I was about to get myself into.


Chop! Chop! Chop!

Most of the meals that I make are quick and easy. And while this recipe was not complex, it took much more time than I had anticipated it would. I had to make a Bechemal sauce, for heaven's sake. I didn't even know what that was until I made this dish. I don't think there was one part that was more time consuming than the other. It was just the number of things that had to come together to make this dish.

Bon Apetit!

In the end, the dish was absolutely delicious! My parents (who aren't big eggplant enthusiasts) went back for seconds and thirds. That made me very very happy to see. My only complaint is that there was absolutely nothing spicy about this recipe whatsoever. Would I make this dish again? Yes, but I would have very motivated and well rested. It is a tasty vegetarian dish. It's a tasty eggplant dish. The recipe is definitely a keep.

If you would like to make this yourself the recipe is HERE.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's : The Goal


The obligatory New Year's post. It's an exercise that many are going to participate in. We are going to sit and survey the past 365 days of our lives and take inventory. Once that is done, we plot out a trajectory for the next 365 days in whatever direction we see fit.

I started skipping out on this entire ritual, giving a handful of reasons why I wasn't participating. Reasons I am pretty sure that you all have heard before. But this year, I'm reconsidering. I'm reconsidering because, sometimes, our minds hold onto the wrong memories that happened during the past year. And we do not give even weight to the good and the positive. So I am going to make myself remember the good, release the painful, and make plans to move forward down the path that I choose.

My year started with one of the greatest things happening to me, right after the ground had fallen from underneath my feet. And while I was pushing through some of the most challenging days I had ever experienced, I was forging bonds with some of the best and closest friends that I will ever have.


I found myself in a place and around people that I never thought could exist. I was in a bubble outside of the world, with like minded people who had similar stories to mine. We learned together. We studied together. We dreamed out loud and talked about how our worlds had fallen away from underneath our feet. But more than that, we were all slowly putting our dreams back together, with help and not judgement. 

 As cliche as it sounds, diamonds are made under pressure and gold is purified through fire. I am a different person than I was 365 days ago. Different way of thinking, different way of viewing people, different way of viewing the world and myself in it. And all for the better. This is my take from the inventory of the past year.

So what about plans for the future? I plan to simply keep heading down this path. To continue the journey that I started. It's a simple goal, but sometimes "keep moving forward" is what takes all the energy and focus you have. And that is what I want my focus to be on this year. Forward.


I have started working on projects that I have been planning and putting off. I have ended  things that no longer have any place in my life. I have found people who make me laugh and smile, challenge my way of thinking and pushed me to limits I didn't know I could reach. 

I have left people who could only show negativity. Left people who only knew how to take and never give. I became more accepting of myself and shirked the need to conform to any standard in order to be accepted. 

These are small steps along a path that stretches for a lifetime. I have no numbered list.  No sheet of paper with check boxes ready to be ticked. I have only one goal. To keep moving forward down this path of my choosing.