It’s a Small World After All

I just wanted to make a quick post to talk about how amazed I am by this blog so far! I started this blog on February 16, 2016 purely because I wanted to openly talk about things. I tried to keep a schedule of Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, with Saturday being a day to share recipes, but lately I’ve had a lack of inspiration. I could talk more about my lack of inspiration, but that’s not my point today. My point today is that it’s a small world after all. Now you probably have the song stuck in your head. You’re welcome!

Since I made my first blog post just two months and three days ago, I’ve gained eight followers. Eight followers isn’t a lot, but it is eight more than I thought I’d have! What’s more amazing than that is how far my thoughts and recipes have reached in such a short amount of time! WordPress does this cool thing where they track where your views come from, and as a lover of all things geography and maps, I absolutely love it! So I decided to write a list of all of the countries my readers have been from in the past sixty-three days. I have reached THIRTEEN countries on FIVE continents! I am seriously amazed! And just for fun, here’s a list of those countries:
1. United States- I mean, duh. It’s where I’m from after all.
2. Canada- Also no surprise. As a great man I met in Louisville, KY once said, “[Canada] isn’t even another country. It’s like a suburb.” And I have Canadian friends.
3. United Kingdom- I know people who live there. They speak English.
4. Australia- Also English-speaking. Makes sense.
5. New Zealand- I know one Kiwi. Jo, did you read my blog?!
6. Germany- Yep. I’ve got German friends. I also used to live there.
7. Denmark- Okay, so I know some Danes too.
8. Netherlands- I mean, we had a Dutch foreign exchange student in high school…
9. Poland- It’s in Europe. That’s not too crazy.
10. Indonesia- I know people of Indonesian decent. Does that count?
11. Russia- I feel like this should surprise me more than it does.
12. Colombia- What up South America?!
13. Curacao- I don’t even know where you are! =/

And because I like maps:
countries

The internet is a crazy place! When I was born twenty-six years ago, no one could probably have imagined that one day people across the world would be able to read what I wrote sitting in my house in Missouri. It’s amazing to think that I can easily reach people worldwide! Next goal: have someone in Africa read my blog!

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My Greyhound Experience

A couple of weeks ago, I rode the Greyhound bus for the very first time. I’ve been on numerous planes, a few trains, and multiple different subway systems in my life, but the Greyhound was a new experience for me. Wanting to be prepared on what to expect, I perused the web reading blogs about others’ experiences riding the bus. Many people talked about how since the bus is relatively cheap compared to other transportation, the passengers can be some interesting people. They also mentioned the poor quality of bus stations, especially the bathrooms. Naturally, all of these things made me nervous about travelling alone, especially as a female, on the Greyhound, but I have to say, my experience was not all that bad.

The most uncomfortable part for me was waiting at the bus stations in between legs. Throughout my trip, I spent time at three very different stations. I would use the word station loosely to describe the stop in Joplin, MO. It’s really just a desk inside of a gas station on the outskirts of town. The waiting area is a like one of the little sheds you buy at Lowe’s with some extremely uncomfortable seats inside, along with a couple of old video games to waste your money on. Although the bathroom inside the gas station was the nicest of the three, this was my least favourite station due to not having any staff inside of the waiting area. It was quite uncomfortable. The second station I waited in was Kansas City, MO. This was an actual station, and although it’s in a rough part of town, I was the most comfortable waiting there. The station was quite busy despite it being after midnight when I arrived, making it somehow seem safer. The bathrooms weren’t spectacular, but were no worse than your typical public restroom. My final station was in Omaha, NE. When I arrived, it was dark out, and I did notice that it was also in a not so nice area, but I didn’t notice anything else until a few days later when I was leaving. The station itself wasn’t terrible, just very clearly an old building that felt dirty, especially the bathroom. Overall I’d say that yes, Greyhound stations are not the nicest of places, but all together not horrible.

Before I began my trip, I was most worried about the people. I read a lot about how a lot of drug addicts and ex-convicts use Greyhound, and was nervous to travel alone around these types of people. When I was waiting in Joplin, I did end up meeting an ex-convict who was arrested for drug possession along with two other former drug addicts and a truck driver. The truck driver was a young respectable looking man and had he not been there, I may have been really uncomfortable. I was already uneasy being the only female in the station with these four men even though two of them mentioned that finding faith in Jesus Christ helped them overcome addiction. It was actually really cool to hear the witness of these two men though. Eventually another lady showed up which helped me relax. I witnessed extreme generosity from this woman. One of the men didn’t have much, so she gave him here hoodie to keep. I also met a couple of people while boarding my bus from Kansas City to Omaha. One was a man from Texas who was on his way to visit his son in Omaha. The other was a guy about my age moving to Omaha from Atlanta for a fresh start. He was really nice, and even offered to share his snacks that his mama packed for him. My point here is that no matter the background of people, they’re just there to travel too.

Was my experience taking the bus bad? No. Am I glad I experienced bus travel? Of course! Would I choose to travel by Greyhound alone again? Probably not. With another person? Possibly. Do I recommend it? If you can’t afford a plane and the train doesn’t go where you need to go, it is a viable form of transportation as long as you’re cautious of your surroundings and open to meeting interesting people! If its more than a day’s trip, it might be worth making a vacation of it. Take a day or two in the cities where you’ll switch buses the explore if you can swing it. It could end up being like a road trip where you don’t have to drive if you take someone with you!

Black Bean Salsa

 

Since I’ve shared main dishes and desserts, I decided to change it up a little this Scrumptious Saturday and bring you something delicious to eat as a snack or take to a party! Credit for the recipe goes to my fabulous cousin, Katie. This one is simple, just chop some veggies and mix it all together! Then dip with your favourite chips! My personal favourites are the thin & crispy cantina chips from Tostitoes, but any tortilla chip will do.

Ingredients:
1 can black beans (drained)
1 can corn (drained)
1 onion (red)
cilantro
2 large tomatoes
1 avocado
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Cumin, garlic powder, salt, pepper to taste

The Words of My 18 Year Old Self

Call me crazy, but I actually kept the essays I wrote my senior year of high school. I think at some point a teacher pointed out that they might come in useful in college. That didn’t happen, but I did get an idea last week when I didn’t have a planned blog. This week I found myself not knowing what I’d blog about, so now those essays are going to come in handy on this blog. If you read my blog every week, you’ve probably gotten a sense of my writing style, if I have one, so I thought it’d be cool to share something I wrote eight years ago. (I also can’t believe I was a senior in high school EIGHT years ago!) This particular excerpt is from an essay I wrote about a book we read in my composition and rhetoric class. (I’m pretty sure that I didn’t read the whole book and wrote this the night before it was due. You’ll notice how I barely talk about the book at all, though this isn’t the whole essay. Yay procrastination!) According to my works cited page, the book was called Maiden Voyage and was written by Tania Aebi. The only thing I actually remember about the book is that the author sailed around the world solo. So without further ado, here’s some words I wrote as a high school senior! (Hopefully this isn’t too embarrassing.)

(The first quote is from near the end of the book.)
We often take what we have at the moment for granted. “I could have walked faster than Varuna was sailing and I felt like jumping off the boat and running over the water to land.” Although when in context this quote does not have much meaning, it does make for a good analogy. All through our lives we are looking forward to the next step, not enjoying what we have right now. All through high school we look forward to college; we want to jump off the boat and run towards the land, but now as we get ready to graduate in a few weeks we realize that that land is closer than we want it to be. I have looked forward to graduating and going to college all through high school. Up until a few weeks ago, I have been extremely excited for graduation, but when I went to the post office the other day to mail off my graduation announcements, I realized how close I am to leaving high school behind forever. Throughout this year I have become closer to a lot of friends, some people I didn’t even know before this year, or even November, (not sure why I felt to add the November part…) and I am wishing that we would have become closer long ago. I feel like I haven’t had enough time to get to know them as well as I should. I have also started to get along better with people that I have never got along very well with in the past. I sometimes wish that I could start my high school journey over again in the middle of the ocean, my boat far away from the land, but I will always regret something and feel the same way when I get to this point, no matter how man time I get to start over. I can’t start my high school journey over again though. It is about time for me to jump off of my boat onto the land and start a new journey, a new chapter in my life. After I came to this realization, I started to make the most of the time I have left in high school and appreciate everything that I currently have. Leaving behind my life that I have known for four years will be incredibly difficult, especially feeling like I haven’t had enough time here. It will be hard for me to start my new journey. For most of us our journeys will most likely be much easier than Tania’s. Going to college or starting a career seems to me to be much less challenging than sailing around the world alone. Starting our new journeys will be hard for all of us, but no matter how much we might want to, we can’t stay right where we are forever.

There you have it folks! This paper is dated May 1, 2008 and I graduated on the 17th that same month, so it was pretty timely. I used a lot of really long sentences, and I still do, but the idea of my final statement remains true. Don’t be afraid of what’s to come! Embrace the future! When I wrote this, I had no idea what my future had in store. All I knew is that I was going to Missouri State University. I never could have imagined all of the crazy experiences I’d have or all of the amazing people I’d meet!

And just to add a photo somewhat relevant to the blog, here I am during my senior year of high school (I had to return that hoodie, but I really wish I still had it!):
ice skating

Cupcakes!

Today is Scrumptious Saturday Sunday! If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I made cupcakes the other day. Today I’m sharing the recipe with y’all!
Here’s my Instagram photo of them!

Yellow Cake
Ingredients:
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup milk

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream shortening, salt, and vanilla in bowl until fluffy. Add sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs; mix well. Sift flour and baking powder together 3 times. Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, mixing well after each addition. Line cupcake pan with paper liners. Fill liners each 3/4 full of batter. Bake 20 minutes. Cool on rack before icing.

Vanilla Buttercream Icing:
Ingredients:
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 to 2 tbsp whipping cream
Food coloring if desired

Directions:
In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.
Add vanilla, cream, and food coloring (if desired). Continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.

That’s it! This is pretty simple! As I was mixing the butter and sugar for the icing, I had clouds of sugar, so if possible using some sort of cover. After a while I held the lid to a skillet over the bowl to prevent a bigger mess. I would recommend mixing the butter and sugar together with your hands before turning on the mixer. I did this after I’d already created a bit of a mess and it helped a lot! Hope you enjoy this delicious treat!

Controversial T-Shirts and Over-Sensitive People

I recently watched this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J61rjizQ564

You might be wondering why I’d watch this video in the first place. The answer is simple; I subscribe to this YouTube channel. The channel posts videos featuring two regular hosts, John Iadarola and Hannah Cranston, discuss their opinions on different topics. Some of the topics are serious, while others are all in fun. This particular video features Hannah Cranston along with a guest co-host, but the premise is still the same.

If you didn’t go ahead and watch the video, the two hosts are discussing a t-shirt that was recently released in, and soon after pulled from, Forever 21 stores. The t-shirt was a part of their men’s line. (I didn’t even know that Forever 21 sold men’s clothing in the first place.) Here’s a photo of it:
tshirt

As you can see in the photo, it’s a pretty simple white shirt with the phrase, “Don’t say maybe if you want to say no” printed on it. Apparently a lot of people found this t-shirt offensive. They say that it “promotes rape culture,” but nowhere on this shirt do I see a reference to sex/rape of any kind. The idea that this promotes rape is totally implied. However, enough people complained that Forever 21 took action.

“Forever 21 strives to exemplify the highest ethical standards and takes feedback and product concerns very seriously,” the company said in a statement.

“With regards to the t-shirt in question, upon receiving feedback from our customers, we took immediate action to have it removed from our website. We sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by the product.” –Today.com

According to the video, I didn’t do my own research on this, Forever 21 did not actually remove the shirt from their website but rather listed it as sold out so now, as Hannah Cranston pointed out, “It’s a popular shirt promoting rape.” This is another issue in and of itself, and one that I will not get into.

Here’s my opinion on the matter. I don’t see how this t-shirt in any way promotes rape, unless you are purely assuming that it is in fact referring to sex, and as a good friend of mine says, “Assumptions are like armpits and butt holes. They stink!” That refers to this too. Let’s say you don’t assume that this particular t-shirt refers to sex. What is it referring to then? Personally, I think that it’s trying to relay a positive message. In our culture it’s almost taboo to tell someone no. At work and in our personal lives we feel pressured to always say yes. Whether its taking on extra work at your job when you’re already stressed out or going out with friends when what your body really needs is rest, it can be hard to tell someone no. Maybe is our cop-out answer. If your friend asks you to go out Saturday night and you want to say no, you’re likely to say, “Maybe, I’ll have to check my schedule,” and later give her an excuse about being busy or forgetting instead of using the word no. I think the t-shirt is empowering people, men and women alike, to not feel guilty for using that two letter word.

Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I think people got way over-sensitive about a shirt. If it in some way actually insinuated that it was referring to sex, sure I’d understand the controversy, but it doesn’t. I can honestly tell you that I think people were upset about this because in this day in age we’re always looking for something to offend us so we can complain about it. I’d almost bet you that more than half of those who complained to Forever 21 wouldn’t have if someone hadn’t pointed out to them that this could be referring to sex, but because we can’t think for ourselves anymore (an entirely different problem that maybe I’ll address in a later blog), a bunch of people jumped on a bandwagon with someone else.  So if you didn’t get anything else out of this blog, at least take away this; remember to think for yourself! You don’t have to agree with me. You don’t have to agree with your family. You don’t have to agree with the media, and you certainly don’t have to agree with the general public! Get educated and make your own opinions!

Funny Moments

So I happened to slack off this weekend, because my sister was in town, and I didn’t get a blog written ahead of time. So here I am pulling something together at the last moment because I really want to stick to my schedule. I was browsing my word documents, trying to find something already written that I could share, but I couldn’t find what I was looking for. In order to post what I thought of last minute I would have to dig through my folders and re-type the entire thing, so for now I will not post that particular thing. Instead, I decided to share with you some funny quotes, and the stories behind them, from throughout my life. So without further ado, let’s get to it!

“No, we’re on the OTHER 50!” “No, we’re on the 60!”
When I was in high school, I was in band. More specifically for this quote, marching band. For those of you not in marching band, one of the things you do at band camp is set drill. Drill is basically just a fancy word for where everybody is supposed to be. It’s what creates the pretty, or not so pretty, pictures that the band makes during their field show. Well one day during band camp my senior year of high school, we were setting drill to the third part of our show. (Don’t ask me how I remember this crazy detail.) We were looking at the drill sheet trying to figure out where we were supposed to be on the football field. It wasn’t hard to figure out that the whole section, nine alto saxes and mellophones, were in a straight line front to back. I was in between two guys, and for some reason the three of us were all having a brain fart at the same time. We were on the 50 yard line, but we knew that was wrong. Suddenly Derek had a revelation, “No, we’re on the OTHER 50!” To which Grady responded with, “No we’re on the 60!” Now, if you’re familiar at all with the game of football at all you know that there is only one 50 yard line, and a 60 yard line does not exist. As soon as they realized what had come out of their mouths, we all had a good laugh, and eventually we realized that we were actually supposed to be on the 45.

“I’m okay with my finger being in it, just not my tongue.”
One day I was at a coffee shop with a group of friends. We all had gotten various drinks. Hot coffee, iced  coffee, smoothies, tea, pretty much everything you can get at a coffee shop. My friend John had gotten a hot coffee. The rest of us were just sitting there enjoying our drinks, but we noticed that John hadn’t drank any of his. He just kept sticking his finger in it. When asked what he was doing, he responded, “I’m okay with finger being in it, just not my tongue.” Of course everyone laughed because we were in college and it sounded dirty, but he was talking about coffee.

“What do you think Steve would do if we stopped on the side of the road to pick up a dead animal?”
One day near the beginning of my second year on a Youth Encounter team (read my blog about YE to learn more), my team and I were driving through Wisconsin. Taylor always joked about picking up the roadkill to have as our dinner. I think it was mostly to gross out our German, Johanna. Anyway, Johanna saw some roadkill and exclaimed, “There’s another dead animal for Taylor to eat this evening!” We were being followed by our on the road trainer, a wonderful man named Steve, so Josh asked what we were all thinking, “What do you think Steve would do if we stopped on the side of the road to pick up a dead animal?”

“It sounds like someone’s trying to feed a CD into the garbage disposal.”
This also happened on my second Youth Encounter team. We had gone bowling with the Pastor of the church we were staying at. Someone had chosen to play “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” by Skrillex on the jukebox. (Apparently every bowling alley has a jukebox for some reason.) When Pastor Jim heard the song his explanation was this.

And for some more of my favourite quotes, here are some without stories:

“Canada isn’t even another country, it’s like a suburb.”

“I just farted I’m so nervous.”

“I have so many keys, I must have killed a janitor in my sleep.”

“I didn’t realize how uncool classical music was. It sure doesn’t attract the babes.”

And there you have it folks, a last minute blog attempt! I thought maybe it’d get you to laugh a little, or at least smile. Maybe brighten up your bad day, or maybe only I think these things are funny. Whatever, I made an effort. That’s what counts right? Anyway, happy Tuesday y’all!