Monday, April 30, 2012

Fully Funded: Tips on College Scholarships

Note in advance, this is all completely my opinion on what won me 2 fully funded degrees, one that will be completed this Saturday, and another that will begin in the fall.

I will try to keep this a little shorter and more succinct than some of my previous, and get down to the heart of the matter!

What I Think Were Important Components to Winning Full Rides:
  1. Being a bookworm- my mom had me read to her in elementary while she cooked dinner.  Later she bought me all sorts of books from every genre and author (even Stephen King) starting in my middle school years.  When you read from a wide range of authors and genres, you come in contact with a lot of words you may not otherwise.  Even if you don't look them up directly, it is amazing what context clues will do for you. 
  2. Being an athlete- sports taught me to work for a jerk.  Sports taught me to keep cool, even with a coach in my face yelling about what I did wrong.  And most importantly, it taught me to stick with things.  My mom is a firm believer in finishing what you started, and when the season got hard you better believe you were going to tough it out.  Even if sports aren't your thing, I think it is incredibly important to find something you are dedicated to.
  3. Being comfortable in a room of adults- when you walk into a college interview, you are not being judged by your peers.  You have to be able to converse with adults, professors, decision makers, and donors.  My mom often took us to various places or had parties where we would be in a room full of adults.  We were not sent to our rooms, but always encouraged to be a part of things.  When you are comfortable talking to your mom's friends, your friend's parents, and your teachers throughout school, you are able to channel that in an interview.
  4. Being Unique- you don't always get full ride scholarships by acting like a bleach blonde valley girl who says like every other word.  I am not saying that looks play in to stuff in interviews necessarily, but you need to have something unique that you bring to the table.  In my undergraduate case, I was a part of interesting clubs (Youth Philanthropy Council, for instance) that really registered with my interviewers.  I was never the president of student council or class president, and they were perfectly fine with that.
  5. Being Confident- hands down, this is one of the most important things, and it is really interlinked with what I have mentioned before.  When you admit to yourself that you are talented, skilled, and capable, you give yourself the ability to walk into a room like you own it.  I know for a fact that I test well, that I am smart, and that I can get alond easy with adults.  So every time I go in for an interview, I am prepared.
  6. Being Prepared-  They are going to ask you the tough questions.  For instance, in my undergrad interview I was asked what the toughest obstacle I had to overcome was.  I actually paused over this one for a moment, grasping for an answer, and finally settled on not really having a dad around growing up.  And you know what, I was so surprised with how much truth was in it that I cried.  Right there, in the interview.  Not like bawling but I definitely teared up.  And you know what else? They loved my honesty and my emotion over it.  They don't mind knowing they are awarding that much money to a real human and not some perfect robot.  Whether it is scholarships or job interviews you had better be able to answer what a big obstacle is or your biggest weakness, and you better have a realistic and honest answer.
  7. Being Skilled- for my graduate degree, I brought to the table being awesome at GIS.  This is something that many of their graduates were not familiar with, and is something that many of their projects and professors are looking for.  Know software, know programs, if you are going in to anything technical look in to programming languages or website writing, know useful tools.
  8. Being Multi-faceted- Whatever you do, don't be a one trick pony.  I think it is important to have hobbies, to volunteer, play sports or join clubs...whatever it is, don't JUST be all brains.  To get the best results, you want to be able to perform.
  9. Being a mystery- Alright that was difficult to come up with something that started with being, but what I am getting at is not showing all of your cards.  For instance, I walked on to the campus I wanted to attend grad school and knew I had to be there that instant.  However, when asked how I was feeling about the campus so far, I made sure to not only tell them that I was very interested, but also that I had other colleges I was going to visit later that weekend as well, and specifically named where I was going.  I think sometimes you have to make someone feel like you are a hot commodity on the market, and that if they don't act quickly someone else will.
  10. Being well-spoken- It is obvious, but you need to be able to accurately convey a message.  Be able to get to your point in detail, without repeating yourself a hundred times.  Use good English, and for the love of God don't say like every 2 seconds.  Sit up straight and pour on the poise, male or female.  You need to be composed. 
Start early, whether you are a Senior in High School or a Senior in college, because many programs make these decisions early and you have to get everything together in advance.  Again, the most important thing is to realize that you are a perfectly capable human and a program would be lucky to have you on their team.  You walk in with that mentality, and you would be amazed how much of a difference it makes as compared to walking in intimidated and defeated.  Believe that you are the best, no matter what.

There is probably no one surefire way to get someone to pay for your degree, but these tips and tricks on what I think won mine will definitely not hurt your case any.
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Soundtrack to Your Life

A lot of songs go through my head on a daily basis.  Some real, some made up.  Some made to really annoying tunes so I will remember something. Music is one of the most important features or complements to our lives and we don't always realize it.  But a good song can teach you something, it can release emotions you are trying to hide, and it can help you learn things in school....

ALLLLAAAA-Bama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut...

You're welcome.  Anyone who knows that will be singing it all day.  You probably haven't since you were a kid in school, but that song never really can be forgotten.

What I think some people don't realize is that we identify with songs singing about something trying or something bad happening moreso than the others most times, and I truly think this is because we get the most and feel the most when we are on a downswing.  Adele has had many serious hits as the woman scorned, country songs are often singing about love lost, even the Biebs sings about it (much to my dismay that he sings in general mind you)...

I really don't know what rappers sing about...I really can't understand them most times.

Regardless, we learn the most from the times that hurt.  I am not saying we don't learn anything when our life is going good...but sometimes we get so complacent when it is that we stop trying as hard as we were or we are just content to let things be as they are instead of trying to make ourselves or our situation better or even the people around us better. 

Even in "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" it sounds like he is living a mediocre life, but he clearly up and left for the other side of the country because he was trying to escape something, and now his loneliness is still all around him while he is on that dock.  That's a mighty big change, and he probably should have just faced his issues, although I do appreciate the song itself.

We are shaped most by adversity.  When you are faced with a problem, you can either be "Sittin on the Dock of the Bay" or you can instead choose to "Set Fire to the Rain".  You can either run, or you can face life head on.  No one promises that life will be easy, but you can rest assured that everything happens for a reason.  Most of the people around you that you feel are "strong" have hit the lowest points of brokenness in their life.

Their husband committed suicide, their house got repossed, their marriage of 40 years ended, they lost a child in an accident...

There are millions of people in this country with really big problems.  Some will take the weak way out, hop on the nearest bar stool and do their best to avoid it.  Others will pick themselves up and choose to face life head-on.

Only one of those ways fixes the problem.

The songs we identify with the most are often representatitve of all we have been through in life.  So think about it, what is the soundtrack to your life?  Mine won't be completely in order...

My Hypothetical Soundtrack to My Not So Hypothetical Existence
  1. I'm A Survivor, Reba     (I wasn't really supposed to be born, different story different day!)
  2. John Deere Green          (I think I have loved this song my entire life, and love green)
  3. Iris, Goo Goo Dolls
  4. Vienna, Billy Joel
  5. Rumor Has It, Adele
  6. Midnight Train to Georgia, Gladys Knight  (I always randomly burst out into this)
  7. Going Away to College, Blink 182
  8. Set Fire to the Rain, Adele
  9. Turning Tables, Adele    (these two are back to back for a reason)
  10. Gives You Hell, All American Rejects
  11. Misery, Maroon 5
  12. Daniel, Dia Frampton
  13. It Happens, Sugarland
  14. Haley, Needtobreathe
  15. Drive By, Train           (if I fall fast it scares the daylights out of me most times)
  16. The Outsiders, Needtobreathe
  17. Hell On the Heart, Eric Church   (I think this may have been written about me)
  18. Stronger, Kelly Clarkson    (It may be overplayed, but the message holds true)
  19. Payphone                        (I am aware it is really new but the feeling is not, haha)
  20. Red High Heels, Kelli Pickler
A lot of these are on my all time favorite song's list, though not all.  Like I said, we identify a lot with songs that have to do with pivotal moments in our life where we picked up the pieces or jumped into the unknown.  Those are the times that teach us the most.  You might look at this list and seeing a woman scorned or a broken heart, I look at it and see a learning experience and confidence I may never have found if I hadn't hit rock bottom.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Life and Times of an Atypical Female

Well the secret is out, I am not normal.  Which would come as no surprise to anyone who knew that I made my own tortillas today just so I could turn them in to tortilla chips and not have to buy them from the store.  But that was 1.5 hours of excellent learning experience, and as it turns out it is still really hard to make tortillas perfect when you are rolling them out with a travel mug.

I will get a rolling pin for my next apartment, I promise.  But if anyone ever had to McGuyver some cooking utensils, I am all over it.

I broke down and got a pinterest a few months back, and it definitely has its highs and lows.  First, I cannot stand logging in to my pinterest and my feed being plastered with half naked pictures of Channing Tatum, the dude from Twilight, and Adam Levine.  I adore Adam Levine, don't get me wrong, but it is just not my desire to see...THAT MUCH of him when I am on a DIY mission.  Luckily the makers of pinterest planned ahead and you can unfollow people's specific boards so that your pinterest no longer looks like the male version of a playboy...maybe that is the first place in which I am an atypical female.

It was actually pinterest that triggered this conversation of me being a bit on the odd side compared to females in general in the first place.  I cannot for the life of me fathom why so many single girls on pinterest have wedding boards.  I know people who haven't had a boyfriend in as long as I have known them and they are posting to them nearly every day.  For me, it is a little mindboggling.

In my opinion, this obsession with these boards is completely misdirected.  Why on Earth would you plan a wedding before finding the guy?  It seems to me like females that do that almost want the marriage more than the relationship.  It comes across sometimes as seriously idealizing this idea of a marriage and the ceremony, specifically.  And seriously, it may as well just say its a marriage to just anyone because other than the half naked Channing Tatum these girls probably don't have a realistic dude in mind.

If someone asked me right now what I wanted my centerpieces to look like, I would stare at them and probably say "centerpieces for what??" or some vague answer along the lines of "idk, flowers and candles?", because as far as I am concerned that is really all the more detail you need.  Centerpieces are really dumb in my opinion.  Although, if someone were to make edible arrangements their centerpieces, I would find that a worthwhile venture.

Except not stupid Edible Arrangements that you order because they are far too expensive and that is the easiest stuff to DIY, people. 

I can honestly sit here and say right now that I have given next to no thought on 95% of things that are related to weddings.  I did say once that if my gold prom dress could be bleached I'd wear it again someday, which my mom promptly gave me that "dear Lord please don't try that" look.  I did give a second consideration to a dress once, but that was pretty halfhearted and was under circumstances in which a boy was the one discussing the whole wedding idea.  Other than that, my only goal is to be small enough to wear a prom dress from DEB and get out of there for about $80 on the dress. 

I also don't get into relationships and immediately debate on if I could marry the guy.  I like more realistic questions, such as "can I put up with him for the next 6 months" because as we all know, the first couple months are the most rocky.  The kind of things that I would look at before even contemplating marriage:
  • Does he have goals and is he working toward them?  If not, next.
  • Would he have a reasonably secure job future?  If not, next.
  • Could I have a family with this person, and would there be a family support system on his side of the family?  If not, next.
  • Would he be there in a crisis?  If not, next.
  • Is there a mutual sense of trust in all situations? If not, next.
And I don't even consider any of the above until I really know that I like them.  I think that getting hung up on things like marriage really sets you up for frustration because while you are planning it, you are going to be thinking about it more, and likely wanting it faster.  And if he is not ready to commit and you have your whole wedding planned already and the invites ready to about problems.  Why not just roll with it and plan it when it gets here?  That is the kind of stuff that makes more sense to me.  If there is not a ring on your finger...skip the planning.

I don't have a little scrapbook somewhere of my head plastered on bridal magazine dresses, nor do I have a stash of brides magazines lying around.  I don't have a pinterest board for it, and I don't have any desire to be getting hitched any time soon.  The person you marry is far more important than the material things of the day.  Make a board that has stuff on it you want your guy to be like.

And not a half naked Channing Tatum.  Just saying.

And while we are on the subject, here are some other strange factoids about me that may not be typical:
  • I play halo sometimes, and when I get in the flow, I can be ruthless with a laser.  And sometimes a sniper.  I still can't drive a Banshee or Ghost though.  Sue me, I'm working on it.
  • I love wooly worms.  You know those little fuzzy worms that have the black and brown fuzz?? SUPER CUTE! I don't squish them I politely take them back outside.  If you squish them, you are a bully.  My best friend recently told me they freeze in the winter and basically die, and then come back to life in the spring, and may go through 14 cycles of this before they become a moth.  That is really freaking cool.  We are now calling them the Jesus Worm.
  • On that note, I also like earthworms, blue tailed lizards, and praying mantis bugs. Those things are ninja bugs, who wouldn't be impressed?
  • Except for in rare circumstances, I rarely notice a guys eyes.  If you do not have eyes that absolutely draw me in, I can assure you I will not know the color of them later.  There are a few people, however, who I could tell you exactly what color their eyes are from the start.
  • I like arm muscle better than abs. This may not be completely weird as a female, but I figured I would throw it out there.
  • I actually get insulted when I am telling people some crazy cooking venture of mine and their response is "You will make a good wife someday".  Seriously?  First, my cooking has nothing to do with trying to reel me in a man, I cook for me and to learn.  Second, just because you can cook doesn't automatically make you a good just makes you a good cook.
  • If right now someone said you can marry the man of your dreams/choosing or you can go on to get your Master's and/or PhD, I would choose the degree every time.  50% of marriages fail.  That degree would stay with me forever.  Welcome to being a realist.
  • I am perfectly fine with arguing over football, and especially fantasy football. 
  • I don't let guys win.  If you are going to challenge me to some game or whatever it may be, you are going to have to earn the win.
  • It is not my heart you have to impress, it's my brain.  I don't like guys who only can talk about sports and know absolutely nothing about anything else.  If my brain flatlines, so will our relationship, sometimes even if it is a friendship.  You have to bring something to the table that I don't bring myself or be able to carry on a conversation about current matters.  For instance, if right now you are unaware that North Korea threatened to bring South Korea down to ashes, you probably should log in to yahoo now and then.  Or twitter.
  • I am not afraid to be single, but am actually more afraid of committing to the wrong person.  Divorce is expensive, if you are going to get married you really consider whether it is the right person or not beforehand.  Obviously I understand that things change over time and some things aren't avoidable...but other things most certainly are. 
  • I have absolutely no desire for a baby right now, I'm 21.  Late 20s at a minimum, early 30s is fine by me.  If even then.  I do not understand the people from my class that already have one or more.  This to me is not an option.
  • This is probably just weird in general, but today I actually made my first alcohol purchase for my roomie and I to celebrate our graduation (in a very responsible way, I am not a partier in any sense) even though I will be 22 in less than a month.  Better late than never I suppose!
Well, there you have it.  No wedding bells and boards, no baby wantin' hormones, no raging boozing on Thursdays, the secret is out :).  Like I have said many times before, I am a green zebra, prancing along in a sea of black and white.


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Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Weekend, In Review.

Well, after being quite the little hermit this winter, I have finally come out of my cave and rejoined the ranks of the social.  What has changed since winter to bring this about, you ask?

First and arguably foremost, I started up yoga again a few months back.  Yoga makes me feel pretty good really and arguably a lot calmer (placebo Zen I suppose).  Then I added pushups and stuff into my routine, and planned it out to where I can go fluidly from one pose to another (shut up real yoga enthusiasts, I like it this way).  Then from yoga, I very recently expanded out to Zumba nearly daily.  I do about 20-30 minutes on my Xbox Kinect, depending on the day and how much I can get through before I am ready to collapse on the floor.  And sometimes I pull out some of the Zumba dances in the shower, which should not be done with any moves where you can't keep your feet planted.

All of this exercise is really paying off.  I dropped back under 150 for a bit earlier this week, after getting back up to my highest of 160 last summer.  Now, the only negative part about this is my dress pants I bought last summer don't really fit now...

THANKFULLY! I will just buy more pencil skirts, which is what I wanted to do anyway.  I am really starting to believe that when you are a teen you are super self-conscious and then when you hit your 20's and 30's you have more potential to feel sexy and happy with your looks.  My theory, at least.

But regardless, I feel a lot like I did back in my volleyball days (though not with as much toned muscle as I had then, fair trade for not having to lift weights).  You really don't realize how much better you feel active until you get back in to it.  But like I have always said, use it or lose it.  Work those muscles and move those joints or feel like a noodle.

And not even a whole wheat noodle, the real cheap starchy ones that don't cook right because they are some weird brand no one has heard of.  THOSE NOODLES.

Second event in the hermit exodus was connecting with new friends.  I have grown out of a lot of my old friends, not surprising as everyone is often at different stages of their life at this point, and I have always preferred to be around people who are a little older than me.  It is interesting but I had always heard that the friends you make in your college years are the ones you keep the longest and I have to agree.  I have met people these past 4 years that I would not trade for the world.  And this year has been especially good for meeting new friends, including recently.  It is great to find new people that you literally don't want to stop talking to.

I have also developed this very convenient new mindset of "I really don't care I am going to do it anyway".  This helped me a ton this weekend, because I was going to Thunder Over Louisville...and it was going to be the usual cold weather that everyone who has seen the past 4 years of Thunder is starting to grow very accustomed to.  My reaction was not to pansy out, but do go do it anyway! My sister and I went and met up with some of her friends and had a complete BLAST.

This is one of my favorite pictures of the actual show, they started playing Whitney's sing "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" and the ones on the bridge started swaying all around and it was just really well arranged.

My gripe with Thunder is either I missed it or they did not play Star Wars music this year and I have a bit of a beef with that Oh Thunder Planners...FIX IT.

But seriously this show is always great and worth going to in any halfway survivable weather.  Not to mention on the cold years the crowds are smaller and then it is even better.  So if you have never are a loser.

TOTALLY KIDDING! But you really should consider it at some point.  It is Disney quality type over the topness.  Maybe even better (but I am clearly biased).

I topped off my excellent weekend with a midnight run to IHOP, which I haven't done in forever!  If you have not been at IHOP extremely late (or early, if you are a pessimist haha) guess it...loser. Where is your sense of adventure?!?

Every now and then in life, I find people that I could talk to for hours and possibly even not stop talking to.  Sadly, being at Thunder all day and shivering all day really wore me out, but I did at least make it at IHOP until around 3 without being a complete zombie.

Well...not a zombie that I know of, there is a good chance I could have not made a bit of sense and never realized it...

Maybe it's the Zumba/Yoga, maybe it's the friends, maybe it's the degree that's coming, but whatever is causing it I am extremely happy.  I am happy with life, I am happy with me, and more importantly as a girl I am officially happy with my body.  I mean I am not saying it's perfect by any means, it could definitely use some extra toning (lookin' at you, tummy) but if it never happened I would be just fine with my size.  I'm not nearly perfect, and it doesn't need to be either.

I can tell you right now, it is a freeing feeling.  If you always compare yourself to Barbie, who is anatomically impossible, or to the models in the magazine, who are air brushed clearly because anyone that is my height and weighs less than me would have a fully visible rib cage (I can even see the bottom of mine) you will never be happy. But if you can look at yourself and recognize everything you have going for you, it's amazing. 

OH! And this weekend included a successful test trial on a DIY I have been curious about.

Ah, weekends.  They take so long to get here and leave to quickly. Time really does fly when you are having fun! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The First Annual NEAT-O!!! Awards

Since I am my own blog, I can have my own awards right?? Henceforth, somewhere around Earth Day (except for all the times I will forget) I shall look at DIY ideas and the ones that make me yell NEATO!!!! will get awards (hence the name).  Mine are mostly in the remodel theme, as that is what interests me most at the moment, with some other decorative DIYs thrown in.

So here we go, for the First Annual NEAT-O!!! Awards, the DIYs and where you can go to find them (outside of pinterest, I will save you the're welcome).

In no particular order because that would require forethought:

NEAT-O!!! What you see here looks like a lovely and interesting stone floor..WRONG-O! This delightful faux stone floor is made from...

Get this.

PAPER! Brown contractor's paper in well planned shapes and copious amounts of polyurethane turned an ugly floor, into an AWESOME FLOOR. 

I tip my NEAT-O hat to that any day.  Other people have done this method with floors without making it look like a stone pattern, but this is hands down the coolest look to any paper floor I have seen.  And with the poly coats on it, it actually has a reasonable lifespan in almost all cases.

Other patterns I think would be cool: Puzzle pieces, varied colors for the "stones", square pieces sponged to look like stone tiles, a basketweave pattern of various colors.

NEAT-O!!! Not only did this blogger make this floor, but collected the stones off the beach, making this project nearly free. Neato to you blogger, neato to YOU!

 This floor is gorgeous! It inspires me to think about what other stone options would be available locally...

Other ideas this gives me: a stone floor with fossils mixed in (how cool would that be!?!), cutting various sized tree pieces into 1/2 inch or so sections and making a floor out of that after drying or sealing them.

Painted Plywood Floors...NEATO!!! I never knew plywood could look so good...ok well I personally hate the yellow choice but I think the idea of it looks good.  This would be an interesting solution for wood floors that you did not have the money to refinish or replace, but were in severe need of an update. 

And really any floor for that matter that just needed an update.  The pattern is pretty cute, and allows the rest of the room decor to be understated.  It's a very interesting idea!

The link to this one is no longer working, but from the pictures you get plenty of an idea of how it works.

Not doing floors? No worries, I have more NEATO!! Awards to share!

Look! In the garage! It's a's a's...

NEAT-O!! Two chairs made in to a bench.

Now, how many times have we had chairs with worn out seats on them?  Don't toss them, make them in to a bench! This was done using 2 chairs and some old wood from a headboard.

Find this and other ideas at:

A lot of you probably will not find this new as I have heard some kids even do it in school and youth group but cut a girl some slack here! I still find these...

NEATO!!! All it requires is wrapping some yarn or twine or whatever around these jars and spray painting them.

To which I say: Why stop at one color? Some painters tape and enough time to dry and you could do anything!

Patterns I would like to try: zebra (clearly), argyle, varied width horizontal stripes.

Find it at:

I know this will probably load up small, and pinterest has gone on the blink (of course) but I am sure you could google this and find it.  But seriously..



Haha I love gummy candy of all sorts, so when I found this it basically made my day.  And I will certainly be trying this over the summer...after I run out of Easter candy haha (thanks "easter bunny").

I mean the flavor possibilities here are endless.  You could even have pina colada flavored ones in the summer.  Right now, after reading this, one of you is probably wondering whether you can make jello gummy worm shots.

I assure you, I cannot, nor will I be able, to answer that question.

And stop considering ruining gummy worms with alcohol ya twerp.

A long time favorite of mine, the vertical garden deserves one big ole NEATO!!!  I have saved it for last as it is everything that Earth Day is about.

People doing these often reuse stuff like gutters that they punched holes in, pots they already had, those small wooden shipping crates, pallets, etc.  I love the fact that people are growing green plants in green planters! I think these are especially useful in this day and age where so many live in houses on small lots.  If you can't go out, go UP! mount these on a porch or a deck or a fence or your house or wherever you can, because it is a great way to grow vegetables and herbs in a confined space. 

I have a feeling I will have a lot more DIY posts to come, but this is just the start of what interests me right now (as I feel like I should probably not make this 27 miles long).

Honorable mentions that you should look up yourself:

  • Rain barrels- No one should pay to water their garden, assemble or buy one of these and let mother nature supply you with proper irrigation
  • Alternative shelving- I have seen things where people put some lumber or shelf tops across old ladders to make interesting shelving, think outside the box!
  • Upcycled Pallet Furniture- I hope to have my own pallet coffee table here in the next few weeks, and I am really looking forward to it! People have made everything from tables to floors out of pallets, and many got their pallets free.
  • DIY jewelry- I have made jewelry out of normal things like beads and wire all the way to off the wall things like Mountain Dew Bottles...and it is very unlikely I will ever buy jewelry again from stores (exception being real gold jewelry as I can't really do that myself)
Right now is a great time for DIY-ers.  We live in a world, or country at least, that is very ok with tossing things out without a second thought as how to reuse them.  If someone were to fire up a company to buy pallets and make tables out of them, they would be a lot harder to find.  So strike while the proverbial iron is hot, and get your DIY brain in gear.  Get inspired to solve solutions on the cheap, and be a kind soul and spread your findings to the rest of the DIY culture. 

I'll be on the lookout for more things that make me yell...

NEATO!!!! Pin It Now!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

In Case You Haven't Heard...

I feel like it is my civic duty to inform anyone meandering to the deepest corners of the Internet to read my blog of all of the things that they may not have heard of but really need to try out. Now some of you trend setting hipsters may already be well attuned to some of this...but hopefully some of this may be a delightful tip you thank me for later. So without any further ado, I give you the however long this ends up list, since knowing what I will get to would involve planning what I'm going to say. Which to me, defeats the purpose of blogging.

Oh right. I said without further bad.

1. Ben Rector and Needtobreathe. First off, if you haven't heard of needtobreathe you are a disgrace to humanity. Haha just kidding, but you really do need to check out their music. My personal favorite of all time is "Girl Named Tennessee" and "A Place Only You Can Go" from their newest album is a very close second. Not only have I enjoyed them for a year or so, but thanks to my liking them I found myself at a concert where I was introduced (sadly not in reality but at least in my head) to Ben Rector himself. He is not a part of needtobreathe, but instead is who opened for them. And he is spectacular. During Ben Rector's performance the band played a version of "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" that is arguably the best version I have heard. YouTube that junk. NOW. You will thank me later. The band is on iTunes. Thank me twice.

2. Chobani Champions Orange Vanilla Greek Yogurt. Get your bum to the nearest Meijer or Target and raid every single store in the area until you find this. It has I believe 8g of protein (I currently have no desire to go look at the official number as my bed is too comfortable) in this tiny little cup of yogurt. And it tastes like real oranges. It's delicious. I don't even like orange juice. But I love this. And am obsessed. Most of the champions flavors are delightful but this one wins hands down. And they are geared toward kids so they are smaller than the usual huge cups of Greek yogurt.

3. Meijer's flavored oils. Use them on pizzas, dip bread in them, do whatever. They are fantastic. They have a garlic, sun dried tomato, and a Tuscan blend. Perfection.

4. Kindle Publishing. Writing a book? Ever wanted to write a book? Look in to Kindle Publishing. It's free, they just get part of the royalties.

5. Mixing cream cheese and pesto. Ok seriously these two were made for each other. Mix a fat free cream cheese with a little bit of pesto and you have an EXCELLENT spread.

6. Plain Greek yogurt dips. I have seen a lot of recipes on pinterest that call for plain yogurt for funfetti dip and things like that- NO! Don't use stupid plain yogurt use Greek. It has protein! I personally plan to use it for ranch dips and stuff like that.

7. Kellogg's FiberPlus chocolate caramel coconut granola bars. If you like girl scout cookies...these taste identical. Get your fix all year round.

8. Fig Bars. Not fig newtons, these are actually Nature's Bakery brand Fig Bars. I have found them at Meijer near the checkout lanes pretty successfully, but other than amazon I haven't looked for them a lot online. But fig newtons WISH they were this good. They blow them out of the water.

9. Moleskin. You can find this stuf near Dr. Scholl's foot inserts and it's great for putting in the back of your heels that rub or under flip flop straps that have scratchy places.

And finally, my personal favorite:

10. Republic of Tea. RUN don't WALK to your nearest Whole Foods or yuppie hub and stand in wonder at the sheer volume of flavors. As an incredibly persnickety human when it comes to hot tea, I have yet to find a flavor that did not blow my mind. I could be bribed in RoT canisters. The Vanilla Almond is quite possibly the most uncanny tastealike to a liquid desert that could ever exist. It's heavenly. I brewed it once with a tornado bearing down on the area just because I love it that much.

Alright fine the tornado wasn't hitting near my house and we didn't realize it was in the area until my sister called.

But you get the point.

So, broaden your horizons and try all these things. You might just be pleasantly surprised! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Don't Avoid Confidence.

I actually have to blog this before I even make a title.  My brain is going in at least 13 different directions at once and really doesn't want to focus in.  Part of it is here at school, part of it is at home, part of it is in DC and part of it is already at Grad School.  For a usually focused human, I'm struggling.

I want to first start out with a challenge for the ladies.  Many of us doubt ourselves on a consistent basis, don't think we have a lot to offer, or whatever self esteem glitches we tend to have.  I want you (actually guys could do this too, as long as you don't get too cocky) to look in the mirror every single morning and think of 5 things you like about yourself, that you bring to a friendship/relationship, or that you are proud of.  Some of you could probably use a little extra positive thinking and would be surprised at how much it can improve your overall outlook.

I am not asking you to be conceited.  You don't have to stand there and say "I am so hott and every guy on the earth would want me".  But hey by all means if you want to go ahead.  Just simple things like "My hair looks great today" or "I am good at what I do" or "This color looks good on me" or "I am a smart woman"- anything positive.  Just something.  But don't so often we start our days like Mia in the Princess Diaries...

" as good as it gets" in a bummed out tone?

The first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have one.

Ever seen the girl that walks into the room and every head turns and you wonder why because she isn't the stereotypical version of hott? Well, she is probably confident.  She probably knows that she is great at what she does and she is walking with a purpose.  I have always said that the #1 reason I have gotten both my degrees paid for is because I walk in knowing that I am more than qualified in the brains and work ethic departments to be a great addition to any college.

Put me on the dance floor, however, and I will suddenly look completely out of my element.  But chalk that up to not enough practice.

The point is, when you have something you are proud of, it helps you in every situation.  I do sometimes get nervous when talking to guys but for the most part I can focus on various topics (usually fantasy football) and get in to a conversation long enough to release my tension and mold to the situation.  In interviews, having something you can focus on and relate everything back to gives you an instant way to keep the conversation flowing while your brain quickly fires off neurons for a better answer that you can fuse into the end of your statement.

And the sooner you stop putting so much pressure on the situation, you will be able to enjoy it a lot more.

If you spend your entire time worrying about what to say, when to say it, and how it could be perceived, you will never get the full enjoyment that you should out of a relationship.  What will happen, will happen.  Regardless of whether you try to overanalyze the situation or you just let it be.  The Beatles would tell you to just let it be. 

I rarely studied for a test.  Honest truth.  I did a little work before the SAT, barely any before the GRE (except if my mom asked in which case I was studying hard, right?) and I knocked them out of the park.  Case in point.  Stop worrying.  You have natural God-given abilities to get through life and be successful.  But to those who sit at the start line and wring their hands wondering just how they should go about the race, it is done before they take their first step.

To those that just run, trusting that instincts will guide them through the trail and around obstacles, those are the people who get the most out of it.

You can worry until the end of time about what will happen, but all you have done is waste the time you could have been using to find out.  The Bible says worry not about tomorrow because today has its own issues, and its right.  Don't worry about what -might- happen if you say or do this particular thing that really in the grand scheme of things is completely inconsequential and you will never remember it.  You only get one chance at life. And if you look back at all the hours you spent worrying about something instead of acting, you might just find yourself with a lot of What-Ifs by the time it is all said and done.

And once you start getting more and more results, you will get more and more confidence to go right along with it.

Also ladies, alarming news has reached my ears.  I hear that we are considered "hooked" whenever we spill the beans that we have had a dream about the guy we are talking to. 

So, note to you and to self, maybe make 'em wait a while longer before informing them we have had said dream, yes? ;)

Two can play this game! Pin It Now!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Just a Bunch of Perky Puppies and Smitten Kittens. Oh, and some Girl Tips.

My roommate and I really should have been compiling all of the advice, recipes, and shenanigans of this school year because I am fairly certain we could have hit best seller status on the NYT List.

Even though, I would argue, that practically everything hits best seller with New York Times.  But that is not the point.

So last night we made up the concepts of smitten kittens and perky puppies.  We have been discussing boys a lot lately (duh, we are girls) and somehow these two just came about.  We don't really have a move that we are calling the smitten kitten yet, but I can give you the premier definition of the perky puppy move:

You know when you are sitting or lounging around all comfy (and therefore likely slouching in your chair or wherever you may be) and then your phone goes off and you get a text, instantly perking up and diving for your phone? (Alright, that could just be a girl thing, but when we are talking to someone, interested in someone, or have a pretty good friendship developing, we tend to dive for our phones).

Well THAT, my blog friends, is the perky puppy (the perking up, not the diving necessarily).  Just like when your cute adorable puppy is sitting all nice and quiet by your leg (does that really happen??) and you get out his favorite toy and suddenly he is on his feet with his tail wagging and looking overjoyed.

Who WOULDN'T want to be compared to that cute little puppy?  Let's make him a husky, because that is my favorite.  And it's my I get what I want.  :)

This doesn't have to be just a text- pictures, something someone saw when they were out (Jurassic Park Arcade Game- you know who you are), something someone heard that reminded them of you, or really just anything that makes you go from relaxed to super excited in an instant.  And it can happen with boyfriends, best friends, regular friends, anyone.  I would argue though, the strong the interest/feelings, the more pronouced it is. Ever seen someone surfing the net on their computer and suddenly the sit up way more straight and look excited? Perky Puppy.

Speaking of Jurassic Park and going on my love of random tangents, I had my reoccurring dinosaur nightmare last night where the Spinosaurus Egypticus (shut up I watch Jurassic Park a LOT, and 3 is my second favorite) was stomping over people's houses.  Luckily for me I hid in the basement of the one I was in when he crushed it and he didn't see me, but seriously I am a little worried that some day him, the raptors, or T-Rex are going to find me in one of those.

Dear Scientists...please don't clone them if you find the DNA.  PLEASE.

Regardless of the dinobullies, I need to come up with something creative that can be the smitten kitten.  So far we have also decided that a person can be a perky puppy or smitten kitten in general...

Oh, maybe the smitten kitten thing can be the actual motion of pouncing on your phone when you hear your noise go off.  HA, genius.

Now, boys, if you are still reading and haven't overloaded on estrogen yet, I offer you up this tip:

Sometimes, you all have to text us first.  My roomie has a friend who is not doing a very good job of this and it made me decide to throw it out there.  REGARDLESS of whether you are wanting to just be friends, wanting to be more than friends, or just wanting in a girls pants (in which case you really need to rethink your morals, just sayin) have to text us first sometimes. 

We girls don't like to have to do all the work.  I personally don't like to make the first move in a situation I think that is still something that a guy should do.  I like when people offer up ideas for first dates or things like that, and don't discount the normal things like fun at the park or staying in, most of us really don't need elaborate things.

We really just need realistic things.

And actually, now that I am on it, allow me to go ahead and offer up other DON'Ts based on past relationships I have had:
  1. DO NOT ask a girl to go out to dinner with you at iHOP at midnight...only to then invite your whole entire family of brothers and cousins (some who are super young) and then inform her that she can meet you there...This will not end well.  I can assure you she will creatively come up with an sudden crappy attitude and reason she cannot attend and you will be nearly dead by the next time she sees you.
  2. DO NOT tell her what you pick as a first dance to "your wedding"...if you have only been dating her a month.  Not smart.  In fact, quite scary.  Can you say, obsessive??
  3. DO NOT and I have to repeat this DO NOT EVER tell her not to worry about this other friend you have because that other friend is "way out of" your league.  She will stare through your soul.  Or slap you in the face.  All that makes it sound like is you think the other girl is way hotter.  And maybe she is, but you are an idiot if you say it.
  4. DO NOT take your mother out using the giftcard your girlfriend bought you for Christmas.  Really...we buy them to give you an excuse to take us out.  That should be inherently obvious. We are smart like that.
  5. DO NOT ask her if she would ever consider adopting your relatives kids...especially if there are five of them.  No, those kids have parents, and quite frankly are hellians from questionable raising.  So no, she won't want to. 
  6. DO NOT tell a girl that you are done with drinking and partying with your friends and then go out the next weekend and post all over facebook how drunk you are.  And then do it again the next weekend...and the next....
  7. IN FACT don't just tell us what we want to hear.  Your actions will rat you out.  Just be honest with us and don't waste both of our time by lying.
  8. DO NOT try to get sexual with a girl when you haven't even kissed her.  This will royally backfire, I can assure you.
  9. DO NOT go on and on about how you don't want a serious relationship.  Clearly this will end it.  Why would I waste my time if that is all you can talk about.  Oh, and when you get in a relationship a month later and are posting all kinds of lovey-dovey BS...don't sit there wondering why I don't want to be your facebook friend, genius. 
  10. And finally, DO NOT spend your entire conversation talking about someone else.  In my case, the guy talked about a kid all the time.  All.  The.  Time.  But the thing is, whoever you are talking to your best friend about the entire time, that's the person you love.  And if you are talking to your girlfriend about someone else a whole lot, eventually we are going to determine that it is them that you love and not us.  And obviously you wouldn't talk about us necessarily to our face all the time and gush about how much you love spending time with us, we don't expect that.  But it stands to reason you would be asking about stuff in our life or talking about various common interests or planning things...and not saying how much you think you would die if that other person was not in your life.
Now, hopefully some of you got a good laugh out of this because you would never do any of these, but maybe in there you can find some advice too.  There are very few people a girl will play second string to (I will happily play second string in someone's life to God.  That is reasonable.  A seven year old that isn't their own kid- not so much.)  And we love when we know that you know us, and you think of us, or something reminded you of us.  And who doesn't? I am quite sure guys would like the same things too in a relationship (your girl knows the score of your team because she actually paid attention since she knows you love them, or bought your favorite beer for the Monday Night Football game because she noticed you were out). 

Girls are really not that hard of a code to crack.

Until next rant. ;) Pin It Now!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I May Have Already Showered, but it's NEVER Too Late for a Soapbox.

Clever title was it not?

I am going to go ahead and warn any readers out there that if you are not interested in reading a highly opinionated blog post, you might want to just skip over this one.  I don't always get on a rant, but when I do it's usually pretty heated.

Politicians drive me bananas (B-A-N-A-N-A-S, you're welcome for getting that song stuck in your head).  As far as I am concerned, this entire political stage for the 2012 elections is a complete and utter sham.  I mean really, we have spent the first couple of months and debates talking about birth control of all things? I personally think that this was brought to the forefront to keep people's attention off of other things.  I am not touting a conspiracy theory, I am touting well-deployed spin.

Why in the world are we even having this debate? Birth control? Really? I mean first off, if it did go through where everyone had to offer it, it is not saying that everyone has to USE it.  Your insurance right now might cover an abortion and it doesn't mean you are going out and having one daily.  I am sure my insurance covers a lot of things that I would never use and probably don't support.  But if you don't want it don't use it.

I don't support abortion, but I could see cases in which a person would have serious issues with going through with the pregnancy.  I am not here to tell people what they can and cannot do.  So if my insurance company covered it, that's fine I just wouldn't use it.  But there again, I do suppose that you could argue that freedom of choice should allow the insurance companies to pick what they cover.  Really, I think you can argue either way here.

But the point is, it isn't even something we should be arguing about.  This should not be the main focus of this election.  We have MUCH bigger issues than who gets the pill for free, don't you think? Forget the abortion issue for a moment, make the pill OTC for about 10 or 15 bucks, and start focusing on things that matter.

Like maybe the economy.

Or the education system.  I cannot fathom why politicians think it is best to cut funding on education.  Education is what keeps the VAST majority of our (and every other country's) population out of poverty.  Ever noticed that some of the best economies sport the best education systems? Hmm, wonder why that is...

Maybe it is the ability to innovate, which is best done by knowing the principles of various sciences, having the ability to problem solve, and knowing math that is more complex than 2+2. 

Technology is king in this day and age.  We have gotten ourselves addicted to it and there will be no going back.  But our country needs to be pumping money in to education to make sure that it is OUR PEOPLE who our innovating, creating, designing, etc.  Why are we spending exhorbitant amounts to have someone else do it for us? Have we really become that complacent and out of touch? Now is not the time to be getting comfy on the couch, now is the time to be kicking butt and taking technological names.  And of course it should still involve globalization principles and give and take with other country, but right now there is no buy and sell going on for's mostly just buy. 

We are like a teenage girl with her daddy's credit card. Not that I ever got to experience that.

Why don't we cut back in programs that maybe people aren't as interested in right now? Why not cut back in nuclear study funding, since most people are a little hesitant after the Japan mishap.  I don't know all the programs and I don't know where the most money is spent.

Which brings me to another opinion- I think the government budget down to the PENNY should be public and more easily accessed.  And maybe it is and I just don't know about it.  I might have to google that here in a bit.

Personally I think some programs need to be reformed, such as welfare.  First off, there is absolutely no reason that people should be having multiple babies and "not" knowing who the father is.  If you can't remember who all you slept with, I really don't think I should have to support you and your questionable way of living.  And if you are lying just to get the benefits, I really don't think I should have to support you.  And if you are living multiple welfare families in the same house and driving a Cadillac, I DEFINITELY don't feel like I owe you anything.

Why is it that the people who manipulate the system get away with stuff like that?

I think welfare should have limits.  Limits like, fine we will fund the first illegitimate baby, but the second will be only half as much, and if you go past two you are not getting funding for them.  Come on people, we can allll figure out how to not have random babies for the most part. Or limits that are like unemployment, where it only goes so long, you have to be looking for a job, but they offer you training in various things.  There could be daycares that are government funded to watch the babies while these women get back in the work force.  And yes, I VERY MUCH support drug testing for welfare recipients.  In fact, I support drug testing for pretty much everything.  I really don't mind if I have to pee in a cup, and would argue that the only people that do mind are the ones shooting up.  But forgive me if I don't think we should support drug abuse and that I don't think you have the constitutional right to be a complete idiot.

How dare me.

AND FINALLY, I am super annoyed at young ladies these days.  Give me a break, why are they all getting knocked up at 16 (partially blaming MTV for rewarding them with TV shows).  Ladies, its a dog eat dog world out there and the job market is getting more and more competitive.  Now our gentlemen friends, they don't have quite as hard of a time as they can easily go military, construction, state road crew, etc. and find a job.  But ladies, we are just not always that fortunate.  Sure there's secretarial positions...but there's also ever smarter phone answering systems and call centers in the Middle East.  So why on earth are you having babies, not going to college, and working at Burger King....WHY IS THAT OK?!  Burger King is a great summer job or second job or part time job...but do really want it to be your entire life's job...

I'll be the first to admit that grad school isn't for everyone and maybe college isn't always either.  But it really is somewhat necessary to be a successful female.  I am not saying we are disadvantaged by any means but we sell ourselves short.  So many have it in their head that they have to have a baby the second a guy says they love him or they have to get married the second they are out of school and I just want to scream "WHY?!"  Is it that tragic of a thought to you to be alone? To be successful in your own right? To know you could make it solo if you had to?

I'm gonna get a bit morbid and Debbie-downer here for a sec.  What if your husband dies? What if he dies and it is just you, on your own, trying to make it with your minimum wage job?  Don't you imagine that might be hard? Or what if the economy crashes again but worse (God forbid).  And sure...a $30,000 salary added to a $40,000 salary is great and all...but how much more could you do if one was a $70,000? 

Every single state should encourage more people to get degrees.  And more specialized ones.  Country needs more engineers? Offer incentives (as if you need an incentive to be an engineer).  Education is the fastest way out of poverty, its hugely integral to a working economy, and it's important to life in general.  But there's no reason the government couldn't offer incentives to get people to do what they want.  Bribery always works for me on choosing colleges :).

Teach people how to think.  Teach them how to support themselves.  It is like that give a dude a fish and he is happy for dinner but will come back and mooch off you again later whereas you teach a dude to fish and he will leave you alone because he no longer needs you...give or take a few liberal changes to the real saying.  Good grief teach people TO THINK (as in before they hop in to bed with every guy they see and then wonder how the baby happened).  We suck information in like sponges and half of us are not equipt to sift through real versus exaggerated and come to our own conclusions.

And if I see one more person acting like tanning is the highlight of their day I am going to snap.  If tan is the only way you like how you look, might I suggest a shrink?

Other countries used to experience Brain Drain because their best and brightest were coming to America to get degrees and education and then were staying here for the opportunities.  And they STILL ARE...but the problem is our own people aren't always using the same resources. This is something that would be a debate far better spent than fighting over birth control. 

I feel much better after getting all of that out.  If any of this rubbed you the wrong way, deal with it.  I will HAPPILY rant about this notion of "politically correct" some other day.  Blame it on the red in my hair ;). Pin It Now!

Monday, April 2, 2012

It's Meatless, Not Tasteless, Monday.

Some of you have probably heard about the movement of Meatless Monday, where you (just like it sounds) don't eat meat in your Monday meals.  This seems to be one of those things where you either love the idea or hate it, with most of the males I know hating it.  However, when you really think about it, there are a lot of things you can make that don't involve meat.  The point of the movement is to get people to realize that if we just cut down a bit on our meat consumption we could do a lot for the environment.  It takes a lot of water to produce a single pound a beef, a lot of resources to raise the staggering number of cows and livestock we consume, and a lot of space.  So if everyone, for just one day a week, ate fettucini tossed with veggies instead of burgers and fries, or for breakfast left out the sausage patty (again just one day out of the week) we could really take a lot of the pressure off some of our most valuable resources.  And potentially be much healthier with the added veggie intake.

I really don't feel like looking up the stats on the gallons of water that go in to production, but your computer has the internet and the internet has google and google has get on it. 

So, in honor of Meatless Monday I present to you....


[I'm just sayin', with the right marketing, Meatless Monday will sound impressive ;)]

Cream Cheese, Pesto, 1 small tomato (think Roma, or anything between golf ball and racquetball), craisins (or finely chopped pistachio, you want something with a different texture), a handful of mozzarella, honey wheat bread (I picked up mine at panera, really any good bread is acceptable), butter

It is simple as any grilled cheese.  I started with a thin layer of cream cheese, then a thin layer of pesto, about 4 slices of a tomato, enough to cover the sandwich with one layer, and added a few craisins and the cheese, buttered both sides, and toasted until it became a golden brown bubbly cheese perfection.

I paired this little guy with some strawberries and some Girl Scout cookies (guilty!).  I think it would also be really good with some sort of soup like a tomato soup, a small salad, greek yogurt, pretty much whatever floats your boat.

Meatless Monday does not have to be salads or tofu, flavorless or can be delicious! You could have french toast and eggs for breakfast (I don't include eggs in the meat category personally), this awesome grilled cheese for lunch, and fettucini for dinner with a big ol' Olive Garden style salad, some breadsticks...or you could have cheese pizza, veggie pizza, cheese lasagna, portobella mushroom burgers, eggplant parmesan- there are tons of dishes that you could enjoy.  And some of these you eat in your regular diet already, so it wouldn't be that hard to meal plan and devote an entire day to a cause like this.

Heck, devote two days if you are really feeling revolutionary, or maybe every lunch. 

I try to participate in Meatless Monday as much as I can.  I am probably going to blow it at dinner though, since I really want a huge salad with a grilled chicken strip on it, but when that happens I try to make up for it some other time in the week.  I have said it before and I'll say it again, you would be surprised at how much less meat you really need in dishes to get the same effect. So that is how I try to help out the planet a little, by cutting chicken breasts in half and trying to use only around 1/8th of a pound or so of ground beef in meals that I am just making for myself. 

Now, if you have read this whole thing and have no desire to eat less meat, that is fine- I am not here to judge you.  But do realize that this grilled cheese is valid in its own right, incredibly delicious, and would be equally devine with some honey ham on it.  This all began with a cheeseball I made once, but that is a different recipe for a different day.

Or maybe a cookbook.

Pin It Now!