31 October 2009

Hope this holiday weekend is fun and enjoyable (or at least relaxing) for everyone!

Eat some treats!!

When Everything Goes Right

27 October 2009

Today was a certain type of day, a type of day that I hadn't had in a good while. Today was a great day. Those seem to be rarer than I would hope for now but sure enough I uncovered one!

To start off, I was accepted into the Secondary Education program today at my university. I had put that off for far too long and I'm very happy to have it done. What could make that better? I completed all of my requirements in time to register for my next semester classes. Still better? The hundred dollar fee to register in this online program (in order to fulfill the application requirements) was waived for me because my past self apparently clicked on a link saying "I want to be a teacher" and I got grandfathered in!!! YES.

That automatically makes this day a good one. No, great.

Of course usually, thats about all the happiness you can stuff in a 24 hour period but no, it still got better!

I was (semi) prepared to take two tests today back to back. I studied for my oceanography one for hours over the weekend but I was cramming for the Philosophy one last night. When I woke up this morning and got in the shower I realized that I could take the Phil one any time over a period of three days! No more pressure! So instead, I took the oceanography one today (and did alright) and then went to Phil and our professor extended the test-taking times to Friday! Now I have three more days to prepare for that test!

To top the day off, I had a club meeting tonight. I was saddened because I only had twenty minutes to prepare for the meeting and it was the halloween meeting. All the members/exec board were invited to wear costumes to the meeting tonight and to eat some dessert. I skipped dinner in favor of googling free/homemade halloween costumes. Eventually I found an article about how to make costumes out of stuff you already have around the house and voilá I made I costume!

I went as the black eyed peas!

Ok, well, I didn't look exactly like them, but it was certainly cute!

I cut out circles from green construction paper and drew faces on them. Then I gave them each a black eye. I also wore a green shirt and put black eyeliner under my eye to fit the theme. I ended up in the top 3 in our clubs costume contest! All it took was a few minutes effort and $0. Best way to make a costume!

The last thing that was great about this evening I wasn't even expecting. Our exec board decided to have a pie eating contest! I wasn't really considering eating any pie until only one girl volunteered to be in the contest. I thought to myself, 'Its not really a contest if she has no one to contend with.... guess I better suck it up. I didn't have dinner anyways, might as well have a go at it'. I'll go ahead and take away the anticipation - I didn't win. However, it was my first pie eating contest (whip cream - all face and no hands!) and I had a blast. We ended up with four girls competing. I probably came in 3rd but it was a really fun time!

Hope you all are having a good day too!

By the way, eating whip cream without hands out of a pie bowl is NOT as easy as it sounds. Trying to suck it up "like a vaccuum" does not work too well. In the end I think trying to scoop it up with your tongue is probably the best method... If I ever have the need to try my skills again I'll let you know how it goes!


Pumpkin Carving

Its been ages since I last carved a pumpkin, but Noah and I sat down yesterday to attempt the task. I had picked up two smaller sized pumpkins recently at a pumpkin patch just in case my friends and I would want to carve or paint them. At the very least, they could always sit as decorations in the apartment.

We had a cheap knife and scoop that I had received in a mail package which were made "especially for pumpkin carving" so we had those tools and our hands. Noah was the main feature because he was far better with the knife than I was so he cut off the top and cut out the actual facial features. I got to face the innards.

In all honesty, I think I got the better job.

Who doesn't want to play with slimy plant parts? Well, apparently my boyfriend doesn't. All the better for me I guess!

After I finished scooping out as many of the seeds and strings as I could (some strings I had to cut because they were so stubborn) Noah cut out the face. We traced the mouth on before cutting to make sure we didn't mess it up. Then, voilá, we have perfect jak-o-lantern.

Its fun to find activities that we haven't done together before and this one reminds me of being a kid in our kitchen. I remember one year we did rather big pumpkins and my mom helped my sister and I cut out the faces (I think that time I accidentally chopped off one of my pumpkins teeth). Its nice to know I'm making progress (by having someone else cut for me).

Soup Show

21 October 2009

This guy is absolutely incredible! I found the link first on Swish Embassy. Eike Von Stuckenbrock, 20, is a gymnast performing in "Soap Show". The way he can move and control his body is awesome; check him out!

By the way, I know the paused thumbnail seems questionable but most of the acts are performed with tubs and poles (and most scenes in relative slow graceful movements).

Get Out the Vote

Ok, so I'm a (relatively) active participate in the political world. I feel so fortunate to be able to have a say in what goes on in my local, state, and national government. The best thing when I turned 18? I could VOTE. What glorious thing!

In Virginia, there is an election in twelve days! The sad thing is, most people on my college campus don't even seem to know that there is an election at all, much less who is running. Well, I'm going to put some basics on here and give links to IMPORTANT sites for this November 3rd election (and some more links that will be useful in future elections as well)! Keep in mind that these links are for Virginia because we're holding our election this year when most states are next year.

Virginia Gubernatorial Candidates:

Creigh Deeds
His Website HERE
(Has Obama's Support)

Bob McDonnell
His Website HERE

Lieutenant Governor

Jody Wagner
Her Website HERE
(side fact: owns a popcorn business)
(Has Tim Kaine's and Mark Warner's Support)

Bill Bolling
His Webiste HERE

Right now, in the polls, the Republicans are in the lead which according to Virginia's voting history is no surprise. Since 1977 Virginian voters have voted for the opposite political party of whomever is in the White House at the time.

Article that captures the election well: HERE.

About Absentee Ballots/Voting

Get Your Virginia Absentee Ballots Here

Finally, I leave you with a quote from the aforementioned article:

"Some are certain not to cast votes this fall because only the most motivated people turn out in off-year elections."

Please, Please. Do NOT let this be the case. Every election makes a difference and quite often your local/state government has a bigger impact on your life than the presidential one will. Get out the vote on November 3rd and let your voice be heard!

"Not for Dating" List

20 October 2009

Recently a friend posted a note (yes on facebook) about relationships. He's been in a few rough ones apparently and he made a list of rules about dating. The intention was that in the future when he's thinking about dating a girl under one of the categories, or rules, that one of his friends will say "Hey man, remember that note you wrote yourself? This girl has trouble written all over her".

The reason this note caught my attention was because of its (seemingly) simplicity. Here are a few examples:

-Don't Date A Girl Who Won't Commit to the Relationship

-Never Date A Girl Who Goes To College And Screws the First Guy She Sees

-I'm going to try something new and be a friend first. (After talking about how some girls seem to only want sex)

This post caused my brain some trouble. I've been a very fortunate young woman having found a guy who is perfect (or as perfect as anyone can be) for me in high school. It has been relatively little effort for us to get along and stay together so some simple points just seem glaringly obvious to me. For instance, I love how Noah is sweet, intelligent, and respectful. They all sound like obvious good qualities to me to find in a guy.

However, I have some girl friends who always - seriously always - seem to go for deadbeats or just the 'wrong type' of guy.

It never ceases to amaze me the amount of time and frustrated energy that gets put into these relationships. Don't get me wrong, I do believe people can change, but they have to want to first and be ok with who they are as a person before they can accept another. Why leave a guy who loves and adores you to be with someone who is abusive, does drugs, or gets into some other nasty habits? Its beyond my comprehension.... Maybe they want to "fix" the guy? Help them? Getting into a relationship just isn't the way to do that. Number 1 - the guy needs to RESPECT you. There is a girl that I've known since before I have coherent memories and she seems to date the exact same type of guy in every relationship she has. Its like they're being popped out of a molding to say "redneck jerk" and she just is itching to grab them all up.

Sometimes you stumble upon a real gem and other times you may have to work at it a bit more but when a guy doesn't do anything for himself (or you) then its probably not worth looking into as a serious, committed relationship. There really are some amazing guys out there (and they often seem undiscovered somehow - no, they're not all gay!) but for some reason they seem to slide past the notice of females.

Up until this post I truly didn't understand; I've taken it for granted how relationships work and what the right attributes to look for in people are. I assumed that in college most people were just out looking for casual relationships and nothing more. They just wanted sex they weren't looking for a commitment. It never even crossed my mind as a possibility that maybe, just maybe, they really were trying to find a relationship that worked for them but just didn't know how to go about it. My friend's note certainly taught me a lesson about judging people too quickly.

I wonder how many people have this problem? Not knowing what to look for in a partner? I also wonder how it all seems so clear to me, the only problem I ever really considered was personalities just not clicking. I've been very lucky, even more so than I previously realized.

Monday Night Treats

19 October 2009

Ok, so tonight we didn't break out any new recipes because there is way too much going on so instead we hit up a local McDonalds.

I got a hot fudge sundae because my throat hurt (and it did help!). It took a while for us to get our food but it was worth it. Night time snacks are always enjoyable when shared with friends and especially so during stressful times.

The only thing that might be better? 1 - freshly baked cookies, because lets face it, gooey, warm, and melted chocolate chips make for a fun and delicious time. 2 - pizza. Warm bread with sauce and cheese on a chilly October night? Sounds like paradise in my mouth!

I would have to choose papa johns for delivery because their pizza is overly delicious and their winning extra:

Garlic Sauce.

Maybe some other night when I'm not such a poor college kid. For now, dollar menu hot fudge sundaes will do quite nicely! Just as long as I'm with my friends, it hardly matters what I eat.

Ganesh and Tea

15 October 2009

So, when I feel down these are the best ways to pick me up:

Currently I have no new or captivating book so that option was out. Instead, I picked up my camera and just took a few pictures of things around the apartment.

Above is a cup from Java City which I had tea in earlier in the day. I had unfortunately left mine behind in the apartment when I went to classes so I ended up buying some to satisfy me. It is becoming a morning tradition for me to have English Breakfast Tea and I didn't realize that until today when I tried to go in without it. The day seems to start of brighter somehow.

The two above pictures are of a statue I purchased at my University's International Bazaar around a month ago. I had seen an icon similar to this my freshman year but didn't buy it and I find that I have been wanting one ever since. My sophomore year there were no Hindu figurines at the bazaar which was quite disappointing; when I saw them this year I asked the vender to hold this one of Ganesh for me until I could come back later to pick it up.

I was fortunate and I still appreciate the statue. It reminds me of the personal, spiritual journey I have taken. I may not know exactly what is right but I can still enjoy the beauty of the world faiths.

The only reason I thought to take a picture of the small statue (and I'm glad I did) was because I had my candles lit and the glow was perfect against the bronze color of the mini-deity. For those who are interested, Ganesh is a Hindu god who is known for placing and removing obstacles. I can certainly use that power on my side over the next week so the mini photoshoot of him was perfect for today.

I hope you have your obstacles taken aside or at least can grow while you're trying to figure your way around them! Goodnight to all.

Rain, Rain Go Away

Image from Here


Rain rain go away,
Come again another day,
All the world is waiting for the sun.

Is it you I want,
Or just the notion
Of a heart to wrap around so I can find my way around

Safe to say from here,
Your getting closer now,
We are never sad cause we are not allowed to be

Rain rain go away,
Come again another day,
All the world is waiting for the sun.

Breaking Benjamin's Rain seems perfect for today.

Lately all the schoolwork has been building up, towering over me, and threatening to collapse and suffocate me. Its not like me to feel so stressed about tests and papers but I'm at the point now in my education where things don't always just "click". I really have to study and I've never built up those proper habits... now its proving to be a huge challenge to try and change that about myself.

Last night in particular was rough... Today I woke up and was late to class (because I wanted to brew some tea and take it with me, so of course it follows that I left the tea on the counter when I headed out). I was put off for all of my first class. On the bright side, the guy I always work with in that class was there and we checked some answers but we didn't understand everything. Then we got out of class early and I got my cinnamon raisin bagel (which has somewhat become a new tradition for me on Tuesdays and Thursdays). Plus, my boyfriend called me which helped a lot along with my pleasurable breakfast.

Today seems overwhelming, well, the whole week seems to be making an effort to eat me alive but from this minute until noon tomorrow I will have the brunt of it. At least I only have 24 hours left in this mayhem right?

If only the rain would end. When life already has me a bit down waking up to no morning sunlight but rather a gray sky is a sad start for a day. It seems as if the weather decided to match my mood completely and I wish I could rely on it to instead be bright and sunny saying "Don't worry, the day will get better". The clouds disappear and the rain drops are only a memory, I'm ready for that sunshine!

Monday Night Meals

14 October 2009

Ok.... So I realize that its technically Wednesday but I just haven't been in my apartment long enough (or it just slipped my mind when I was here) to upload the photos and write a post.

I attempted my first Eggplant Parmesan which is one of Noah's favorites. There were a few things that I already know I would adjust next time. 1) less sauce - when preparing the dish it said to put sauce between the layers and I did that but I put too much sauce between the layers. 2) bread crumbs need to be MUCH smaller - the recipe called for Italian bread crumbs but seeing as I could not find them at the nearest WalMart I decided to try a certain vegetarian stuffing. FAIL. It ended up taking me way longer than it should have to complete this dish because I was attempting to crush them by hand (I would have done it in an easier manner but I didn't think the stuffing would be too big at first). Next time it will definitely be easier for me to buy actual crumbs.

All in all the flavor was ok, but I think I may buy two eggplants next time and use the tops of them mostly. When you get lower in the body of the eggplant there are more seeds and I think that those slices came out a little bit mushier than the others. Most of the eggplant was well baked though.

Ok, so here's the recipe I used from AllRecipes.com.

Eggplant Parmesan
(serving about 5)

1-1/2 eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced
1 eggs, beaten
2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
3 cups spaghetti sauce, divided
1/2 (16 ounce) package mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon dried basil

This recipe's Ingredients were scaled to yield a new amount. The directions below still refer to the original recipe yield of 8 to 10 servings.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Dip eggplant slices in egg, then in bread crumbs. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes on each side.
In a 9x13 inch baking dish spread spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with the cheeses. Sprinkle basil on top.
Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

All in all the flavor is really good, I just have a few lessons learned for the next time. I'm already thinking of some possibilities for next Monday's meal1

Family Football

11 October 2009

Its Parents Weekend at my university which is usually an interesting time for me.... My parent(s) have never come down for this weekend since I've been at college. Granted, freshman year mom was sick a lot and now I don't know how I'd feel about dad coming down. Still, I see other families and students who are so happy all around me. Last year it felt like I was drowning in the midst of it all.

This year I was very fortunate (in a selfish way). My future apt-mate came down and spent the weekend with Noah, Jake, and I. Also, none of my friends parents came down to visit. I remember that my freshman year it didn't really bother me when all the families were here...maybe because it was still a possibility for me? Having my friends with me over the weekend was a huge help as well as staying away from main campus. Its not bad when my friends parents visit, but just not on that particular weekend. The university has planned activities that parents can come to and all day long families are wondering around campus spending quality time together. If my friends are gone with their families that weekend then I'm left quite alone. Kelsey even has work now so I couldn't have met up with her. I was very fortunate this year to be surrounded!

Today Noah took me out for lunch at a local Italian restaurant. On our way back to drop him off at his dorm, we passed a family on the Quad. They were playing football together. They were a group of six, two teams of three. There was a Dad, Mom, girl, 2 boys, and a little guy (old enough to run but obviously not as fast as the rest). Noah and I were stopped at a red light before turning onto campus so I got to watch them for a little while. Every single person was smiling, they were having group huddles, and they let the little boy have the ball and would slowly chase him as he ran. At that moment in time, that family was perfect.

Image from Here.

Its getting harder and harder for me to think of memories like this with my family. It feels like years since we actually were a family and even longer since we had good times together. I know when I was younger I was generally happy. I am fortunate in the sense that we DID a lot of things. I really appreciate that I had experiences with my mom that some people don't ever get. We went so many places... Europe, Canada, Mexico, out West (two times), Disney World, the Caribbean, and beach trips every year... She was my girl scout leader, youth group leader, a Band Booster. She was really involved in my life and we had that opportunity because she was a stay-at-home mom. Its rare now for women to not work and be able to "take care of the kids" and thats not even what I want to do with my life but since I lost her, I feel lucky that we did have those opportunities.

The good part about where I am in my life now (just watching that family with Noah), I know I have the opportunity laying at my feet in waiting to create my own family. Granted, kids are years down the path, but I have the beginning vestiges of a family. Noah has been there for years already and I have no doubts that he will be there for many to come. Even though my family life wasn't always perfect, I have the ability to create my family in the way that I want and I can provide experiences for my children one day that I wish I had received myself. Its a calming thought. I know there are very few "perfect families" (or perhaps none) but some of my friends seem to be pretty close. Thats so rare now days and I hope I can provide stability and love when my turn comes to be a parent.

College has allowed me to be independent, to leave behind some of the problems in my life, and to develop relationships with the people I care about more fully. I feel as if I have all the power I need to do what I want with my life and I WILL follow through. I hope I can take the inspiration this family gave and carry it with me for years to come.

Marking Things Off & Hate Speech

10 October 2009

Sometimes I look back at previous years in my life and I wish things could be as simple again. No one liked busy work in high school but at least it was easy and gave you some grade cushioning. In college students may have three tests the whole semester to make up their final grade. Decisions have a larger impact on the whole, on happiness, and on the future.

This coming week I have three major tests/labs due and I know I need to devote more time to my studies. Weekends fly by way too fast! On the light side, one of my future roommates came into town today and we finally settled where we're going to live next year. I've known for ages WHO I want to live with, it was just a matter of accomplishing it. Parents and money were big hindrances during this process but we seem to finally have it all kinked out and I'm more excited than ever for another school year.

The feeling of accomplishment, happiness, and eagerness is almost overwhelming. This problem has been stressing me out for almost a year and especially this past month it has been really eating me because we'll have to sign leases soon. If only I could now turn my focus to something else.

On a completely different note....

I appreciated this on Ellen: Judy Shepard

It was just a few days over eleven years ago that Matthew Shepard was beating and then left tied to a fence to die because he was gay. The bill against hate crime is in the Senate and is expected to pass. I truly hope it does. That will be another step towards accepting people.

I read this in an online article and it deeply saddens me but does not surprise me.

Gibbs said Obama will praise the bill Saturday.

"The hate crimes protections are long overdue in the president's opinion and believes that their passage represents an important step, and looks forward to, when the legislation gets to his desk, signing it and making that the law of the land," he said.

If that happens, at least one group is considering filing a federal lawsuit, arguing that the bill threatens free speech under broad interpretations and would allow federal intervention into past cases, including ones of alleged rape.

The Liberty Counsel, a law firm that works on religious freedom cases, is directing criticism at the president for his appearance at Saturday's fundraiser, saying it raises questions about propriety when taxpayers must pay the cost for his travel and security.

"The president's speech appears to be a payback for HRC's endorsement of his candidacy," the group said in a written statement, adding the it believes Obama is on the "wrong side of life, morality and liberty.

The wrong side of life, morality, and liberty? Denying people love is on the wrong side of life and morality? Attempting to criminalize HATE words and HATE actions is against MORALITY??? What is moral then?

This isn't even pushing for marriage, civil unions, or right to adopt children. The bill says we cannot ATTACK people because of their sexuality.

I hope my children can grow up in a world when this prejudice is behind us. I hope that my generation can create a world that is more accepting of all humanity. We need to appreciate one another despite the differences.

(Image from HERE)

Monday Night Meals

05 October 2009

Its another Monday which means Noah and I had our chance to try out another vegetarian entrée. I googled for ideas as usual and found this Ratatouille Bake on All Recipes.

Let me tell you that dating a vegetarian sure helps a girl get her veggies in! Now that its just us cooking instead of dinners for our families every night we can go meatless (fine by me!) and we have been experimenting a lot more. This is a wonderful thing - I think college is a perfect time to expand your horizons in all areas, why not cooking? Plus, I hardly get any vegetables when I'm on campus for dinner. The only thing I can think of for the future is maybe figuring out a way to add beans into the dish (or maybe just as a side) so we can get more protein in.

You can see that I really wasn't joking about getting vegetables in!

Here are the ingredients and directions as listed on allrecipes.com We actually didn't alter any ingredients this time although we did have to cook everything a bit faster in order to finish in time for Noah to get back to main campus and rehearse with the trombone choir.

1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 cups peeled and diced eggplant
2 cups chopped zucchini
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 (8 ounce) package frozen cheese ravioli
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C); spray a 2 1/2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; cook and stir the garlic, onion, and eggplant with the garlic until the vegetables have begun to soften, about 8 minutes. Stir in the zucchini, bell pepper, tomatoes, basil, parsley, salt, and black pepper; bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
Cook the frozen ravioli as directed on the package; drain. Spread the cooked ravioli in a layer into the bottom of the prepared baking dish; spoon the hot vegetables over the ravioli. Sprinkle with the cheese.
Bake in the preheated oven until the casserole is bubbling and the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.

The finished product!

All in all pretty good and a surefire way to get nutrients in! It went quite well with a glass of sweet tea (sure have been missing my favorite drink). Happy Mondays!
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