Thursday, June 26, 2014

Religion- or Lack Thereof

The following words were written by me awhile ago, I guess I forgot to publish the post. While cleaning up my blog, I came across this and felt it was too good and too honest not to publish now.


Yesterday, while in the shower shaving my legs (something I rarely do, because frankly, I really don’t give a damn), I had a revelation. A big, sweeping realization came over me.

I’m over organized religion.
Granted, I’ve been “over organized religion” for a long time now. But this is it. I’m done. In a grand (not really), public (not really), Anne Rice-ian gesture, I am shunning modern Christianity. Now, before you cry, or pray for me, or (depending who you are) call my mother, I am not, in any way, rejecting, disowning, denouncing, or shunning my god. I have my reasons.
Webster defines Christianity as “the religion derived from Jesus Christ, based on the Bible as sacred scripture, and professed by Eastern, Roman Catholic, and Protestant bodies”.
Derived from Christ.
Based on the bible.
Professed by different sectors that, although different, compliment one another and evolve out of the same ideologies.
When I was thinking in the shower yesterday, I couldn’t help but water down “Christianity” to its fundamental basis: a relationship with god. How is this any different from any religion? Is every religion that has ever existed not based around a relationship with a higher power (or lack thereof)? It is the fact that, in many religious groups, particularly the Evangelical realm of Christianity, this notion has become so muddled and ripped apart by pretentious assumptions, interpretations, and rules that the relationship itself has become lost. I feel like in order to be righteous or accepted in an Evangelical Christian church, instead of following a simple life of love and forgiveness that the bible instructs, everyone is held to ridiculous ideas and interpretations of the church body or leader.
That is what I’m over. I can’t be a part of something that has become so warped. I can’t be faithful to something that is the leader or the church’s opinion. I get sick when I think of hate being wrapped in opinion, accentuated with a couple choice bible verses, and served as truth or doctrine.
I can’t be a part of something that has become fueled by hate, bigotry, systematic inequality, intolerance, sexism, and/or anything else a person uses his or her religious beliefs as justification for. And that in and of itself is another thing I can’t support: the fact that so many people use their beliefs to attempt to justify their own wickedness. Because sexism, bigotry, intolerance; it’s all wickedness, I really do believe that.
When I tell you I support equality, please don’t tell me you’ll pray for me.
Author Anne Rice has been sort of a role model for me while making this decision. I would like to quote a statement she made when she went public with her decision to renounce Christianity. Although I grew up in a loving, open-minded Christian home, with parents who I know love and accept me no matter what, and was never an Atheist, I still see this well-put statement as totally pertinent to my situation:
My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn't understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me, but following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been or might become.”

So no, Jesus is not weeping, and God isn't shaking his head. Satan is not rejoicing.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Why am I a Feminist?

I'm a feminist. I'll admit that I'm one of those people that is not sure exactly what that word, and everything it stands for, completely encompasses. But I work every day of my life to learn more and figure it out. I like that I learn new things every day. It's not always pleasant, and it is always eye-opening. For example, I recently read an article on The Frisky about things white people need to understand before they are prepared to intelligently discuss racism. It was a little uncomfortable, and it was definitely eye-opening. I read it and understood the things the author was saying. I agreed with every point. Then I shared the article on my Facebook page, and got a few likes-- and two argumentative (and hilariously defensive) comments from two white, straight, cis males. Of course, right? I'm just trying to educate others WHILE I educate myself... I'm not pretending to have all answers or know all the stuff.

And that's exactly how I feel about feminism. I don't have all the answers or know all the stuff. My stance evolves pretty much daily. I learn new words, terms, ideas pretty much daily (yesterday, for example, I stumbled upon the term neurodivergent, which I had never heard before. Here is an excellent blog post on neurodiversity). I'm a mellow person with genetic high blood pressure, so I really try to avoid the internet debate scene. I typically hide behind the notion that we're all entitled to our opinion and that it isn't my job or my place to change minds. But the thing is, I'm growing completely discontent with this attitude. It is my job to change minds. It's my job to not only share my ideas, but to back them up and argue them! So my plan is to try to actually stand up for myself and my beliefs when someone comes at me defensively when I share with him or her an idea that might be somewhat uncomfortable. Change is uncomfortable. Being educated, especially on heavy topics that carry a lot of emotion and bitterness, is uncomfortable. I don't want to get too comfortable.

So I thought I would start this new chapter by sharing the things that have happened throughout my life that have culminated in my stance as a "feminist". I put the term in quotation marks, because it means different things to different people. There is no single, simple, neatly wrapped definition of what a feminist is. By reading the following list, I hope you will understand what feminism means to me. I hope you will understand what I'm fighting for and against.

Why am I a Feminist?

1. When I was in first grade, there were these two girls. They were both really nice, and I was friends with them both. One was black, and one was white. They happened to be cousins by marriage. The white one would go around saying "we're cousins, isn't that funny?" and even back then, I didn't understand why it was funny, because I thought they both liked wearing pretty dresses, they were both really nice, and were both human, so why was it funny that they were related? Why couldn't they be related?

2. When I was little and I wanted to play football on a team like my older cousin, because he, myself, and my brother would always play at my grandma's house and I loved it... and was told by my aunt that I could be a cheerleader.

3. I played softball for years, and once, when we were out in the field practicing before a game, a girl said to me "dude, shave your legs". I was nine. (That's also one of the reasons why now, as an adult, I don't shave my legs.)

4. I went to a Christian summer camp during high school. One time I got chewed out for wearing a "too short" shirt, because as I was walking up a hill, it rode up and a camp employee saw. The boys at camp never wore shirts. Even the male counselors and employees.

5. At that same Christian camp, they would split up the boys and the girls for a "talk"... the boys got to talk about dating (or something- I never really understood, but once the man who was speaking made a joke prior to the talk when we were splitting up that I only sort of understood that deeply disturbed me to the point that I won't even type it here- but it involved "petting"). The girls were lectured on purity and how "modest is hottest" for an hour.

6. While I'm in that same vein, the fact that my whole life, at church, I got lectured on how to save myself and remain pure for my future husband. The boys never got told to save themselves and remain pure for their future wives. (Also, it was always husbands for the girls, of course- what about the girls who wanted wives? What about the girls who didn't want anyone?)

7. Still on the topic- girls were lectured about how they should dress and act so as not to lead their "brothers in Christ" to stumble.

8. When I was 16, I got to go to Europe with the chamber choir I was a part of. When we came back, my English teacher asked us to share our experiences with the class. It was me and a few of the boys from choir in that class. I was talking about how I loved the big city we were in, but felt that the smaller villages we visited were more rustic and even dirty feeling. I got cut off by two of the boys, who were basically like "no, they weren't like that, she's wrong" and then dominated the rest of our time to share. I was only giving my opinion- I guess they thought their opinions were more accurate (and important).

9. In my first year in undergrad, there was a path between some of the dorms that was jokingly called the "rape trail" because girls were habitually assaulted there, to the point that we were told not to go that way.

10. At the dealership where I take my car to be serviced, all of the mechanics and service reps are men. All of the office staff are women.

11. One time my girlfriend and I went dancing at a club. This guy asked me to dance, and I agreed. He stuck his hand up my shirt and grabbed my tit- UNDER MY BRA. I kneed him in the groin, and then HE called ME a bitch.

12. One time a friend and I were walking back to my car late at night after an event. This group of about 6 men approached us and harassed us, asking if we wanted to party. We said no. The response was "yeah, you do". This is just one TINY example of men not respecting "no".


These are the bigger events throughout my life that have caused my beliefs and my stance on feminism. I definitely consider myself lucky. I'm 25 years old, this list could be A LOT LONGER, but it's not. Many women deal with these types of things, and much, much worse. This is why I'm a feminist- because these things, some cultural, some religious, some societal- shouldn't happen. Period.

I'm not sure what's next for my in my journey as a feminist, but this was the first step in me continuing my own education and beginning to educate others.

Monday, February 24, 2014

I Want to Quit... Everything

School is draining, because it isn't stimulating. At all. I'm in a credential program right now so I can teach high school social studies to pay bills until I can do what I really want (which~~~ I'm not even sure what that is yet).

It's awful, I know. Don't get me wrong, I'm passionate about teaching. Believe me. I've had to write countless essays about how and why I'm passionate about teaching (it seems extremely sneaky that they plan these assignments once you're in the program, and they have your money, and the student loan people have your soul, that try to weed you out and make you realize you don't want to teach at all). I want to be a role model for young women who have nothing but negativity all around them. I want to inspire.

But I don't want to teach high school social studies. At all.

I just got back from a wonderful week-long vacation in Hawaii (I'm so blessed). And it was absolutely a wake up call, having to come back to the real world. I don't want to go to class tonight. I don't want to sit there listening to a guy ramble on about things that are obvious to me. I don't want to go to class tomorrow. I don't want to sub at an elementary school in the morning. Yet... here I am.

I know this all sounds so whiny. I know I'm lucky to have options, a plan, and a job. I'm incredibly lucky and I know that and I wouldn't ever turn my back on that. But when, exactly, did I trade excitement, passion, and what I want out of life for stability? I know that's the best course of action for me right now. There's really no other option. But it's slowly killing me. And if I don't do something- ANYTHING- it will slowly kill me. It sounds dramatic. But I just don't want to get caught up in this cycle that so many people are stuck in. I want to live, and I want to be happy, and what I'm doing right now is just not making me happy, and I don't know how to change that.

Does anyone get that? I mean, I'm sure everyone does, to an extent. I just feel like I should either have it figured out by now, or I should just stop. I could take a while and just sort of exist while I try to work things out. But I'm just afraid that if I tried that I would still feel stagnant, like I do now.

I don't know what to do, but I'm going to figure it out. Eventually. But one thing's for sure, I need to wake the fuck up. I need to wake up and start living my life, regardless of what job I'm at or program I'm stuck in. I've been static for too, too long.

And now here's a picture of a freakin' adorable kitten surrounded by marshmallows, because this post was waaaaay too heavy. Cheers!


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Back Again

I've done this before, you know.

I write some things, share some stuff, have some good ideas. Then I get busy. A girl's gotta eat, after all. School takes up pretty much every ounce of energy I've got in my body, and when I'm not there I'm doing things FOR there, or I'm trying to make money, or I'm trying to get healthy (I've been gym-ing a lot lately).

Again: I've done this before. I think every blogger has.

Not that I consider myself a blogger. Someday I will, though. That's one of my goals. I want to be the person who unabashedly shares every little and big moment in her life with people who enjoy listening. I want to be inspiration. I want to be the words that an insecure young girl comes across when she's at her lowest and just trying to find some answers. I want to help. I want to be the fun sister you never had.

Have you ever seen that episode of Friends where Monica's credit card gets stolen by a woman who spends her life doing all sorts of interesting things? I want to be that woman (minus the identity theft, of course). And I want to write about all of it, so that maybe, just maybe, I can encourage you to do the same.

This year has already been different. A lot of people say that, and a lot of people mean it when they do. I mean it. I've already done things differently and acted differently. I've got a different mindset and different feelings on stuff. The change isn't drastic, but it's there. Maybe it came from being in a program at school in which I actually feel intelligent and useful, instead of like I'm wasting the time of myself and everyone else. Maybe it's because I just got out of a long, intense relationship and am having to reexamine EVERYTHING. Maybe it's simply because I'm finally starting to make sense of what it is I want out of life, and what I want to do with my life. I'm not sure, but this year feels different. Every year, every day, every minute is a fresh start- but this one feels FRESHER. Somehow! It's exciting.

So maybe I'll do what I've done before. I'll talk about how busy I am and vow to start making time to write. I'll start off relatively strong and then before you know it I'll be gone again. But hopefully I can turn this blog into something more important than recipes and fashion tips (even though those things are totally important things). Maybe I can start talking. Telling stories. Planning. Helping. Encouraging. INSPIRING.

And maybe that will end up being just so damn cathartic to me that I just can't stop.

Here's hoping. :)


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Recycled T-Shirt DIY

So, my mom sent me this cool Johnny Cash t-shirt, and I knew I had to do something with it. I was kind of afraid to cut into it. I mean, it's a cool shirt, but it also stands for the fact that my mom just gets me. You know? I'm almost 24 years old, I've been living away from home for 6 years, and I still get care packages. Only, MY MOM'S care packages include a $20 bill and a bitching t-shirt. Yes.

So, I was afraid to cut it up... but I knew that if I didn't, it would end up on the floor of my closet or in the trunk of my car, and I'd only really wear it to bed or the gym. So I took a deep breath and decided to try upcycling it into a cute blouse.

I think I nailed it. I have a few finishing touches and resizing things to do, but luckily I am visiting my parents on the weekend and can use my mom's sewing machine. But for now, I think, yeah, nailed it. Step by step instructions and pictures below.

This is the shirt, before I started. 

Step 1: Cut off sleeves.

Step 2: I made two cuts, about 2 inches from the edge of the sleeve, to make straps.

Step 3: I tried to be as accurate as possible, without using a ruler (oops). I made a 
mark right in the center of the chest, where I wanted my new neckline to be.

Step 4: I opted for a sweetheart neckline. I cut out the whole neck area, to make a 
lower, sweetheart neckline. 

Step 5: Flip the shirt over, and cut out the back. Here's where you can get really creative. 
I stuck with a plane, square back. 

Step 6: I decided to add a little bit of ruching on the bust. Right where the sweetheart points, 
I took a little thread and stitched about an inch and a half of basic ruching. I might add more later. 


Here's my finished product. I love it! I have to finish the edges of the neckline, so it doesn't roll up like that. I also want to take it in under the armpits, so I don't feel like I have to wear a cami underneath. Overall, I'm proud of my work!

Friday, August 17, 2012

DIY Sea Salt Facial Scrub

One of my all-time favorite facial cleansers is this one from Lush. I like Lush products, they are fresh, handmade, and made out of real ingredients. However, they are still packed full of preservatives and chemicals. Plus, Lush isn't exactly wallet friendly. I've really been on a DIY binge lately, and so it hit me... DUH! I should make my own.

All of the ingredients (well, the ones I didn't already have, anyway) are from Walmart and ring it at $3. Yep! $2 for a bottle of pure sea salt, and under a buck for a couple limes.... amazing! I whipped up a batch large enough to fill my old Ocean Salt container- the large one- which cost me (well, my mom, it was a birthday gift!) $34.95, according to the website, with quite a bit left over. Seriously, I can make my own product sans  the chemicals for a third of the cost? No brainer.

Here's my recipe. I plan on trying this out a few times a week for the next couple weeks, and then I may make a new batch. Lush's version includes vodka, which is apparently an amazing facial toner and astringent, so I'll probably add some. I'll also use half olive oil and half coconut oil, which I may or may not dilute with some water (I have oily skin- so I'm not too sure how much I'll like all the oil, but who knows, it's supposed to soften skin, so maybe I will!) and I plan on adding grapefruit. This stuff smells good, but imagine adding vodka, coconut, and grapefruit to the mix... like a tropical cocktail for your face! Yum.

Sea Salt Facial Scrub

5 tablespoons + pure sea salt
1/8 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon tea tree water*
juice from two limes

Combine all liquid and then add salt, stirring to incorporate. The consistency should be wet, with liquid pooling around the edges (liquid will separate). I haven't quite perfected the texture and consistency, but you could definitely adjust the measurements until you get a texture you like.

*Tea tree water is basically just diluted tea tree oil. For help with determining how much you should dilute, see this site. I usually stick with 10%, as my skin is oily and acne-prone.

And, as always, be careful with the ingredients. Never use something you are or may be allergic to, and don't use anything that may irritate your skin. Be especially careful if you have sensitive skin, as sea salt and citrus juice can be irritating. If any irritation occurs, stop using the product! Also, don't use this more than a few times a week, as it can be abrasive. This is an exfoliator, after all!


If you have any questions, suggestions, tips, or would like to suggest another DIY product for me to explore, let me know in the comments!


Friday, July 6, 2012

Red, White, and Cake

I hope everyone had a nice 4th, if you celebrate it!

We barbequed pretty much every meat possible, and pigged out on raw veggies, corn on the cob, homemade mac n cheese, and of course, sweets and BBQ!

We played with sparklers and watched fireworks, which here are lit off a hill, and pretty much visible anywhere in the city. It was really nice.

I wanted to make something fun and different, so I tried my hand (for the second time) at cake balls. I would like to start by saying that I'm not a baker. I am so far from a baker, but I so desperately love baking, that I usually stick to boxed mixes... which is fine. I get to crack eggs and mix things, but my dessert still comes out edible. Perfect.

Pinterest has been wonderful, too... people are creative. So creative that I've learned how to make ridiculously easy truffles out of Oreos, really easy Nutella cookies, and omg this a chocolate chip cookie, in a mug, out of the microwave. Pinterest is wonderful, and the landslide of holiday-themed treats, crafts, and projects in the weeks leading up to an occasion is equally exciting.

But, yeah. Not a baker.

However, though, I wanted to make something a bit more special than a standard pan of brownies. So, I decided to take a stab at cake balls. Like I said, this was my second attempt, after a not-so-yummy first... mine came out like lopsided, grainy piles of soggy cake.

This time I hit it out of the park, and my balls (teee hee heeee) were a smash.

The chocolate cake balls I made- some covered in white, some in semisweet, all decorated with bitchin' patriotic sprinkles. Ironically, I have maybe half an ounce of American pride in me.

Now, I am by no means all of a sudden a baker. Nor am I a cake ball pro. But I feel like cake balls, or, more accurately, cake pops, are so super trendy now, you can't just find a simple "recipe" or list of tips on how to make them. 

It's all a whole lot of "temper this" and "mold that" and don't forget to dip your stick in coating BEFORE you dip it into the ball! 

That's nice. Really. But I've got better things to do with my time than go to all that trouble, just for something that tastes so ridiculously yummy it's literally all gone within 7.328 seconds of revealing it. 

So, I've decided to compile a few helpful hints for making cake balls!

Cake Ball Tips

1. Don't use too much frosting. Remember my grainy, soggy first attempt? Too much frosting. Start small, maybe half a can, and add more as you mix, at your own discretion.

2. The texture of the mixture should be like dense dough. Remember when you were little (or yesterday, if you're like my boyfriend) and you loved to smash your bread slices into little balls? Okay, that dense little ball of obliterated bread dough is exactly how you want your pre-dipped cake balls to look and feel like. Trust me. I was worried mine was too dense- til I began snacking on the mixture as I was rolling. It ends up almost fudgey, it's so deliciously perfect.

3. There is no need to use a food processor or anything else but your fingers to crumble your cake. Unless you want to make the process go faster (if pulling out the ol' food processor, putting it together, pulling the cake into batches to process, and then cleaning up is really any faster than just using your hands). 

4. Let the cake cool completely before crumbling and/or adding frosting. I cooled mine a bit before crumbling (although it was still warm while I did this) and then let the crumbs cool completely before making the mixture.

5. Don't be afraid of leaving the mixture in the fridge for too long. I left mine in overnight, and it ended up super easy to work with. Also don't be afraid to keep putting it back in to cool off, as it warms up. I also made the balls and then put them in the fridge to get cold again prior to dipping.

6. Be creative!

7. I searched high and low for an easy chocolate coating recipe I could make out of chocolate chips or chocolate bars, because- let's face it- while easy to use, chocolate almond bark is disgusting. I found a couple that are pretty much just melted chocolate and either oil or shortening, but then I read that that was to make it glossy, not hard. I got fed up and ended up using semisweet baker's chocolate. This works fine and stays hard as long as you keep the balls refrigerated. The white is almond bark- I'll admit it!

8. Don't fall for those little novelty cake ball makers they sell at Kohl's (I'm sure they sell them elsewhere, but I see them all the time at Kohl's right with the Babycakes machines and mini donut makers). It's not the same!

So, there you have it. I have to give all the credit of my perfect balls (again, teeee hehehehe) to Amanda K Jones, who made cake balls a little less trendy and a little more science-y and graspable. Her play by play, complete with trial and error, is perfect. 
Happy baking!