Back in the Saddle Again

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This blog has been inactive for months now, but I’m going to try starting it up again. Describing my adventures abroad over at my travel blog, Sheep and Dragons, has been an utter delight (and quite the learning experience). But now the reason people choose to write blogs– we have something to say– is burning under my skin and setting my fingers itching to channel my thoughts through my keyboard onto this random blog. hellodavid

“Random” is surely the best word for this blog so far, because I started it thinking I’d write about feminism, maybe with some history and nerdy musings thrown in… but looking back, it seems to be very food-focused (weird), poetry-centric, and very faith-based. Well, my faith is a part of who I am and is sure to be at the core of what I write, but I suspect the other two will not be the focus of my blog going forward.

The posts I can squeeze in over the next six months between classes, work, my screenplay (!), and catch-up on Sheep and Dragons, will likely center on writing, feminism, books (dear heavens, prepare yourself for some passionate book reviews) and… webseries/TV series.

The latter is the reason I’m writing this post instead of working on the first scene of my screenplay, choosing which pictures to use on my Versailles post, or reading about World War I. Ever since my good friend Becca introduced me to the better-than-marzipan wonder that is The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, I have been wholly obsessed with modern literary adaptations on YouTube.

Since then, my  fascination with narrative possibilities on YouTube and my respect and admiration for these content creators have grown bigger than Hagrid’s pumpkins on Flesh-Eating Slug Repellent. I managed to work The LBD, as The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is fondly called, into a paper on author-audience interaction in transmedia that was worth half my grade last semester, I have formed lasting friendships that began with discussions over The LBD, and I have found a half-dozen truly remarkable web series to fall in love with.

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Over the next several posts, I will discuss the creative potential in web series, review the web series’ I follow, and who knows? maybe continue on my random bent.

Oh- and I’ve learned that I can use blogging as an excuse to display my favorite photographs (that I take) and gifs (that I pilfer from the Internet). So that’s what you can expect from this blog in the coming months!

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A short story

I Am the Arrow. In my Creative Writing class last fall, the prompt was to write a short story inspired by any Sylvia Plath poem. I sifted through a half-dozen Plath poems and extracted lines that called to me until they formed the shape of a story. The italicized lines are all taken from poems of Plath’s from her last book of poetry, Ariel. The story is my own.

I Am the Arrow

An excerpt of this story was published in Ariston this spring. No reproductions or excerpts without author’s permission.

2014, a year to be brave

A new year, a new word. Every year, I choose a specific virtue or value to work on. It’s usually something I feel I have been lacking in my life; in past years I have decided to focus on patience, courage, strength, and perseverance, among others.

Every year, I focus on my word and make a deliberate effort to bring it into my daily life. I push myself to work on it and practice it until it becomes a part of me. Most importantly, I pray over it, and ask God for grace, especially with help on my word (virtue/value) of the year.

psalm 73Those prayers are what give me the strength to keep working on that word, and by the end of the year, I look back and find that I really grew in that part of my life.

The word for 2014 is brave.

Hermione Granger had it right in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Hermione Granger had it right in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The dictionary definition of bravery is having courage. There are so many places in my life where I want to be brave this year.

I want to be brave in my writing; to be brave enough to sit down and write, then to edit, and finally to submit my work for publishing. Humans are supposed to be made up of 55-75% water, but when I sit and stare at a page of my own words and think of letting others read it, I feel like I’m made up of 60% insecurity.

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I want to be brave in having my say and letting my voice be heard in a group. I communicate best on paper or in small groups; put me in a crowd and I lose my tongue. But how can I stand up for others if I can’t stand up for my own opinions? Dumbledore said it best: “There are all kinds of courage,” said Dumbledore, smiling. “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.

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And most exciting of all, I need to practice bravery because I am spending this semester abroad. I leave tomorrow for Wales, UK, my first time out of the country. I will need to cultivate bravery as I meet new people, leave my old boring routine (I do love routine) in the (American) dust, and scamper around the UK doing scary things like navigating London with friend (who shares my directional challenge) and clambering up ropes courses. 

(You can follow my Wales blog here if you’re interested. I should have something up by the end of January.)

"Belle's bravery" By Bloodonthemoon5 on DeviantArt (I don't know anything about this quote, but it's great!)

“Belle’s bravery” By Bloodonthemoon5 on DeviantArt (I don’t know anything about this quote, but it’s great!)

Bravery is about pushing past fear and doing something worthwhile, something good, despite being frightened or unsure. To me, bravery has nothing to do with a lack of fear, and everything to do with overcoming a fear.

bravery-quotes

When I look back on 2014, I want to see a year of bravery.

What about you? Do you have a word for 2014?

“I’ll Make a Man Out of You” – Cafeteria Edition

My version of the song “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from ‘Mulan’ based on my university’s cafeteria service:

“Let’s get down to business to order dinner/Did they send me french fries when I asked for fruit?/Time is racing toward us, has my dinner arrived?/Heed my every order and you might survive/You’re unsuited for the college dorm so pack up, go home, you’re through”


Ah, finals week, when anything seems more productive than studying!

 

American Indian frybread: Let’s not forget the Native Americans this Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

We finally made it to the end of November, and a much-needed break is headed our way. Hopefully you all get a chance to rest this Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is always a wonderful time for me to celebrate what I am most thankful for in my life, my family. As I will be away from home for Thanksgiving this year, I am also focusing on the other things in my life I am thankful for: friends, education, health, freedom, writing– and food!

Lest we get too caught up in the cartoony depictions of “Indians and Pilgrims” and turkeys that all the stores and the media are pushing on us, let’s remember that the original Thanksgiving feast was a gift from the Wampanoeg. In honor of National Native American Heritage Month this November, I thought I’d try out an Ojibwe fry bread recipe. It is super easy to make, it’s vegan, and it tastes delicious! Odds are you can find all the ingredients in your pantry as well.

Try a traditional Minnesota Objibwe Recipe!

Native American Fry Bread

Ingredients:
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 cups of flour
1 cup warm water

canola or vegetable oil

Directions:

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add warm water in small amounts and knead until soft but not sticky.

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Adjust the flour or water as needed, Cover and let stand 15 to 20 minutes.

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Pull off large egg-sized balls of dough; flatten into fairly thin patties and make a slit in the center.

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Fry patties in hot oil until bubbles appear on the dough; IMG_3115

turn over and fry on the other side until golden brown.

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Be careful when using hot oil (don’t pour down the sink). Keep in mind that grease fires are put out by flour, not water.

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Best served hot!

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Recipe adapted from Judith Ramsey, on her “Visit Minnesota” website

If you get a chance to try it, let me know how it turns out!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wild Geese

Wild Geese
 
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
 
from Dream Work by Mary Oliver
published by Atlantic Monthly Press
© Mary Oliver
Another Mary Oliver poem. I adore this one. What a wonderful reminder that the world is bigger than just you and me. When I am stressed, or lonely, or upset, or saddened, the world seems to narrow so that my problems hang heavy and huge. “Wild Geese” comes as such a good reminder that there is so much more out there: the despair of others, yes, but also rain and geese and joy, and the world offering itself up to our imaginations.

Vegan Tuesday

As I mentioned in a previous post, my roommate and I are doing “Vegan Tuesdays” this semester. Eating vegan is great for animals and the environment, and if you eat fair trade, it’s good for people too! The best part is, even if you’re like me and don’t want to commit to the full vegan lifestyle, you can still make a difference by trying to eat a few vegan meals.

I’ll admit, the first couple Tuesdays were tough, but I had the support of my roommate, and I’ve learned some tricks along the way. Now I look forward to Tuesdays because I can try a delicious new dish for dinner.

The trick I’ve found to a happy Vegan Tuesday is to keep it healthy and delicious. Why healthy? Oreos are vegan, for heaven’s sake, but that doesn’t mean I should spend every Tuesday relying on a package of Oreos for sustenance– no matter how good an idea it seems at lunchtime in the university’s crummy cafeteria. (Seriously, avoid cafeteria food for this. Blech.) Which brings me to the delicious part: If it doesn’t taste amazing, or at least adequate, why would I eat it? This is especially important when trying a new diet, including a vegetarian or vegan one.

So- How to go vegan (even one day out of the week) on a busy schedule? More to the point, how to do it as a poor/limited resources student/post grad?

I start out with a LUNA bar in the morning for protein. I also like the peanut butter Clif bar, and my roommate recommends Lara bars. My roomie goes with a coconut or soy yogurt to get the day going. Add some fruit to that protein and we’re good to go.

Lunch can be a simple and familiar as a PBJ sandwich. Lots of bread contains traces of milk, so you can hunt around for dairy-free, or just shrug at the “trace” of milk and roll with it (which is what I do). More exciting options could include an eggless pad thai, butter/egg-less pasta, a rice, bean, & veggie burrito, or some kind of tofu/tempeh dish (don’t be turned off by tofu; if it is done well, it tastes fine, it just soaks up whatever flavors it’s in). Add fruits & veggies.

A big thing I’ve learned: Graze, graze, graze. I mean it. A handful of raw almonds here, a carrot stick there, peanut/almond butter, fruit- you’re gonna want to eat in between meals. Don’t starve yourself here!

Almond or soy milk is a great source of calcium, and goes great with cooking. I prefer sweetened vanilla almond milk, though unsweetened works just fine mixed with whatever I’m cooking. Another snack idea is a smoothie with fruit and juice or coconut yogurt.

Dinner is a big one: I make sure I plan this out ahead of time, otherwise I get to Tuesday and eating vegan seems like some kind of huge trial (woe is me! if only I could have some CHEESE to survive this day! oh noooooo). Salad obviously worksRice and veggies or veggie soup from a can or scratch or a microwaveable container, whatever time commitment I can handle that day. Couscous or quinoa from a box cooks up in 15 minutes total, and comes in flavors, then I add veggies sauteed in olive oil. I’ve gotten quinoa out of my cafeteria’s salad bar a couple times & put it into a frying pan along with olive oil and some sauteed squash.

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Salad bar quinoa and zucchini, sauteed… yum yum!

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Those of you with a sweet tooth like me will be fine eating vegan. Check out bakeries for vegan cupcakes, try out a vegan brownie or cookie recipe, or go with sugary junk like smarties and vegan chocolate. Better yet, go without the sugar for the day, it’s good for you! (Then let me know how it goes, because I haven’t quite managed it yet…)

If you’re a student living out of the cafeteria or a working person with only enough time to pour mix out of a box, eating healthy, delicious, vegan food is still totally possible!