life

TBTS (Throwback Thursday Stories): The 40 Penises of Freshman Year

Today we are throwing it back in a few different ways to a few different places.

Throwback Thursday Stories is a segment I used to do on my blog which, as the name suggests, included a “throwback” story that I posted on Thursdays. (We like to keep it literal over here.)

On top of that, the story I’m posting today was one of the very first I ever had published. The website, In the Powder Room—which unfortunately is no longer active ☹—was actually responsible for both of my first ever publications (the other was about the first time I did a juice cleanse which you can read here) and the friendly editors that helped me prepare my post were the first people to ever make me feel like a real writer.

And on top of that, I figured since school has started back up for a lot of people, why not re-share one of the most—uh, unexpected first days I ever had?

It’s a win win win as far as I’m concerned.

(Except for past Kim, she’s still a little shaken up.)

There I was on the first day of my second semester art class. While completely ashamed of my lack of artistic ability, I was just as determined to improve as I was the previous semester. I walked into room 68 and found a spot near the front just as my teacher clapped her hands together to get our attention.

“We’re going to dive right in this morning. No use wasting any of this precious time. Let’s just keep it loose and have fun today.”

I nodded, smiled, and quickly began to search my bag for my pencil box, silently pondering what we’d be drawing.

As I propped up my drawing pad, a man took the stage my teacher had vacated and I saw him nod to the class before I flipped open the front cover to reveal my first blank page.

Now, the actual fall time of the front cover behind my seat was probably around a second or two, if that, but due to its likeness to a curtain on Broadway, the descent seemed to last a lifetime.

Beginning with its peak height—which completely blocked my view of the stage—the cover fell slowly, carefully revealing what I was sketching inch by inch. First I saw the man’s head. His eyes were gazing away from me, towards the door in the back left corner of the room. Then I saw his chest, now bare, and his arms laden with goosebumps. Then I saw his…WAIT, WHAT?! The cover hit the back of the chair and I sat, stunned and still amongst my classmates, unaware of what to do. I started again with his head, sure I’d had some kind of pornographic stroke. I again moved down his chest and arms until I again found his…

WHAT KIND OF CLASS IS THIS?!

I looked around, desperate to find someone in the same amount of shock. And while I saw a few of my classmates wincing as they sketched, making a conscious effort to keep their eyes up, no one seemed to completely object to our subject.

“If you are uncomfortable, or feel it will use too much of your time, please feel free to draw fig leaves in the place of genitalia. And if the time comes that you do feel comfortable, challenge yourself to complete full body sketches.”

I’m a modest person. I knew the day would never come when I’d find myself adding drop shadows to a stranger’s anaconda, so after class I assigned myself five hours hard research on the anatomy of a fig leaf.

Much to my surprise however, intricate knowledge of this greenery would do me no favors as the parade of peckers continued throughout the semester. I failed to take into account the variety of sizes and shapes that would take the stage, and I neglected to consider the impact the model’s pose would have on the angle at which gravity would…umm…pull.

Not to mention, despite my thorough research, there were times my fig leaves failed to appear, well, leaf-ish. For example, one afternoon I sketched a man that appeared to be squatting on a burning bush, and later that week, I drew a gentleman whose crotch had seemingly sprouted a snowflake.

To make up for the blunders down under, I decided to start drawing the models’ facial features.  I reasoned that if I was forcing my teacher to grade a drawing of a man giving birth to a pineapple, the least I could do was give her a face to sympathize with.

This however, did not go well.

Turns out, if you are as tremendously terrible as I am, a butt chin can look a lot like what is hidden behind a fig leaf, and facial hair can look a lot like what keeps it warm in the winter.

As the semester drew on, it was clear that I was never going improve; however, I did grow more comfortable with being told to stare at a man I’d never met as he pointed both up and down at the same time. I even went back and forth on the idea of taking that next step with my colored pencils, and attempting a schlong sketch. What did I have to lose?

Ultimately however, I talked myself out of it. I concluded that any attempt I made would not only be pitiful, but also insulting. Picture a kid trying to explain a drawing of their family to their teacher in preschool. Now picture me explaining why I’ve added a pre-explosion Hindenburg blimp between the legs of Bob from Torrance to my college professor.

On the upside, I did eventually perfect that fig leaf.

10 Things I Do Incorrectly

Ever since the day we were born, we’ve been taught to do things a certain way—or at least the way our family (and those around us) deem acceptable. Then, as we make our way out into the world and see other people doing things in completely different ways, we have one of two reactions:

  1. We are intrigued and overall impressed, thus we adopt this new method.
  2. We are horrified.

I’m not afraid to admit I have habits that (I guess) might horrify people. Not in a clinical way or one that would warrant an arrest or anything. But some that would definitely provoke a dirty look or at the very least a pity nod and a side glance to someone equally as upset.

Don’t get me wrong, this post is not a promise to change any of them. It’s also not an apology. I’m just pointing them out to let you know that I know, and also to let you know what I know in case you’re wondering if anyone else does what you do, you know?

For example:

1) Tie My Shoes

I was never able to figure out how to work the loop, swoop and pull method, so I’m still rocking the bunny ears. Honestly, I prefer this method. I think it allows a tighter (a.k.a more efficient) tie.

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2) Follow Washing Instructions

As a persistent rule follower this is a little out of character for me, but I get so aggravated that some clothes require this and some require that. I do stick to the basics: colors vs. whites, but when it comes to machine wash vs. hand wash, I’m more than likely to go survival of the fittest on you and cross my fingers you make it out of the washer and drier. If you do, I dub thee worthy of my closet.

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3) I Cut the Crusts off My Sandwiches

I’m sorry but crusts are gross and I will never apologize for this. The only thing I’ll admit is a little weird is that crusts don’t bother me when the bread is toasted. But I feel like that’s because it’s a more consistent texture…or something.

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4) Handwriting

My handwriting is an absolute disaster. It’s a strange combination of cursive, chicken scratch and both lower and upper case letters. It’s a shame too, because I actually love writing and receiving letters. But when I look at the way I write, it’s not a big mystery why I’ve never been able to keep a consistent pen pal.

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5) I’m Right-Handed and Left-Handed

(Not really) speaking of hands, mine are moody. While my right is dominant in most everything in my daily life, I’ve always batted left-handed. As a result, I also golfed left-handed, however, I recently learned that I have a better right-handed golf swing. So basically my body is having a constant identity crisis.

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6) I Hate Peanut Butter & Coffee

I feel as though both of these preferences have been regarded as sins at some point during my life, and while I’d like to apologize (I guess) for being unable to relate/obsess/meme with you, there’s really not a whole lot I can do about this.

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7) Dream

This is one of those things where I know I don’t really have any control over it, but I still feel like I’m doing something wrong. I just have weird dreams. And not the “haha how funny” kind of dreams, I’m talking mouth agape, friends concerned and inquiring about professional opinions type of weird. I’ve written about some of them (which you can read here and here) but they just seem to keep on coming. Just the other night I had a dream about peeling the top layer of skin off of my face. Mind you I had this dream after a relaxing evening of watching a romantic comedy and coloring.

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8) I Occasionally Misuse “Literally”

I understand this is a terrible (literary) crime, especially since I like to consider myself someone with a relatively good handle on the English language. But I can’t help it! Sometimes I find myself in the middle of a story where the punch line feels so unbelievable that the person I’m talking to couldn’t possibly believe how serious I am. So I’ll say, “LITERALLY,” before the big reveal, that way they know I’m not screwing around. And even though it doesn’t make sense, and there are people who would say, “oh yeah, and what would it have been like figuratively,” the way I see it, it’s their choice to be a jerk. All I was trying to do was get them as excited about hearing my story as I was telling it, and I wanted the ending to literally blow their mind. Into a million pieces. Yes, I wanted my story to be so good it murdered them.

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9) Tanning

I understand that I have pale skin. I also understand that tanning is terrible for your skin, which is why I don’t often do it. But can someone explain to me why, when we spend a few hours in the sun, I come home 98% pale, with blotchy sunburns on my knees and a tan line from my FitBit, and my sister comes back a golden brown sun goddess? Something about that just doesn’t seem right.

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10) I Scrunch

This is more of a shrugged acceptance rather than a confident statement, as I don’t know if there is actually a designated “right way.” The other day I was watching a video on YouTube where someone mentioned they “scrunch” their toilet paper rather than “fold” it when they wipe, and there was an uproar among the adjacent parties. Words like “monster” and “animal” were used. Meanwhile, there I am, knowing full well I’ve scrunched my whole life, wondering if I’m some sort of deranged psychopath and don’t even know it? To settle this, please feel free to add your two cents here:

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In the end, some of these things are biological and some could be addressed in a nature vs. nurture argument, but most of these things are just because…me. I don’t want to apologize because I don’t think I should have to change, but I also don’t want to say I don’t want to change because my analytical side likes to weigh the pros and cons of both sides.

Except on crusts that is. You ain’t changin’ my mind on crusts.

A Few Challenges for My Birthday

As of yesterday, my 28th birthday is officially one month away!

This is both alarming and exciting. I’m not necessarily intimidated by the prospect of being 28, but then again it’s like, woah, I’m going to be 28?! You know?

Anyways, in order to welcome in age 28, I’ve decided to do a few challenges.

I did some deep diving in the Pinterest universe—and made it out alive, so 28 is already looking good—and I’ve found a few that look both fun and doable. Plus, they’re lists, which if you know anything about me, you know I love the hell out of some lists.

Some people might say giving yourself a hefty amount of tasks to check off in the month before your birthday would be stressful, but I have never been one of those people. Thus, let the lists commence!

I got one for exercise:

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I got one for drawing—which should really be a challenge since I don’t/can’t draw, but hey, maybe 28 year old me draws. Who knows?

30 Day Drawing Challenge

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I got this one that will give me something to write about each day

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And this one for happiness, because it just seems like a logical way to welcome in another year of life.

30 Day Happiness Challenge

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Is this a bad idea? Will these challenges end up stressing me out more than building me up? Have I made a grave mistake by committing to them on the internet rather than just keeping them to myself?

Maybe.

But all I can do is my best. The whole point is to get 28 started with a bang.

Not bangs though, I don’t think I (or my sister) could do those again.

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I’m Still Trying to Land My Own Jump

The other day I was scrolling through Facebook when I came across a video of a skateboarder trying to land a super complicated trick. Massively complicated for someone like me. Impossible, really. But for this guy, it was something he knew he could do eventually. It was something he could work towards little by little.

The caption of the video described the trick as a “triple set with a massive laser flip,” which undoubtedly means…something.

The video fades in on the guy, Christian Flores, standing on his skateboard, his voice coming through the speakers saying, “Everyone has their own project that they’re doing mostly for themselves, you know?” He’s standing next to a double door entrance of a medical building, on a small patch of cement that leads down three small sets of stairs. The camera is pointed straight at the building and Christian is in the far left corner of the frame. With a quick pump of the leg, he rolls towards the edge of the stairs and comes to a quick stop so he can look down at the jump he’s going to make, visualizing every movement required in landing the trick successfully. He then goes off camera to give himself more room to pick up speed, before soaring back into frame and hurling himself into the air. When he lands, the board is upside down under his feet and he rolls on his back across the asphalt. It looks like it hurts, like maybe he should be broken in more ways than one, but he pops right up, grabs his board and runs back up the stairs.

For the next few minutes, the video shows a montage of what should have been (at least I think) the last day of Christian’s life. He skids and slides and crashes and rolls and booms and bangs and oww and how much milk did this kid drink that his bones are not in a pile right now?

The caption of the video states that throughout the trying process—which took over two years—Christian did endure a few broken ribs, but that’s a laughable amount of damage compared to what should have happened. If I tried a trick like this, I think the acting doctor would end up laughing, but in more of a, “great news, you didn’t break this rib!” type of way. But as much as I’d like to go on and on about how broken this guy should be, how beaten down and discouraged and exhausted, there comes a time when you have to respect that the guy just knew how to fall. Being a skateboarder, he was used to it. And being a good skateboarder, he didn’t let it bother him. With each crash he popped right back up and ran up the stairs. Again. And again. And again.

Not being a skateboarder myself, it’s hard to understand how he kept getting up. But I suppose his wanting to land that trick (regardless of the consequences that came with it) is just a physical representation of any of us being knocked down en route to accomplishing something we’re passionate about.

There are clips of him rolling around in obvious pain, tears rolling down his face, and anger radiating out of his bones. There are countless moments when you almost want him to stop, for fear he really might hurt himself. But there’s no stopping him. He keeps getting up.

The funny part about the whole thing is that it’s just a trick. All of this falling and nearly dying and hours of frustration, it’s all for a silly skateboarding trick. But then again, is that really all it is?

Like any muscle, perseverance takes time to build up and make strong. We’re not born with blind determination, we have to work for it. We have to want it. And so even though this want of his may have seemed like small potatoes to someone trying to start their own company or run a marathon or write a book, the drive to do any and all of these starts in the same place. Who knows where his determination could take him after this trick? Who knows what his mind would set itself on next? What counts is that he knows he can get himself anywhere he needs to be, because he knows he’s willing to put himself through hell to get there.

At about the four minute mark, we see him propel himself into the air for what seems to be the hundredth time. He floats up off the stairs and his feet leave the board. His arms go up in the air to keep his balance and his eyes focus down on where he needs to land—which he does. With both feet cleanly on the board, he rolls down the asphalt for a few dozen feet, then comes to a stop, throws his skateboard and shirt into the air, and walks over to hug his friends.

As the video closes, Christian says he is proud to have accomplished his goal and happy that it is done, but even so, he is already looking for something bigger. My response to this was a solid two minutes of letting my jaw hang open, and then I wrote this blog. It’s just a short, silly blog, nothing more. But then again, maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s part of something bigger.

Why I Almost Didn’t See Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade” and Why I’m Glad I Did

One of the most talked about films in theaters right now is Bo Burnham’s directorial debut, Eighth Grade. Having been a fan of the comedian for a number of years now, when I learned his name was attached to the already intriguing project, it made the decision to see it pretty easy. So, this past Monday, as I packed up my stuff at work, I checked the showtimes nearby and decided to spend my open afternoon doing just that.

Walking into the theater for the 4:00 p.m. showing, I fell in step behind a couple and then discovered my assigned seat was directly beside them. We shared a laugh and made a few comments about the associated odds, and then slowly got quiet. They leaned into each other and talked low, and I opened the book I had in my purse.

As time went on, other people began to shuffle in. Some alone, like the girl my age in a slouchy cardigan, and the one probably younger than me with a blonde bun piled on top of her head; an older woman carrying a large popcorn and a colorful shawl, and a man about my dad’s age wearing a red shirt and glasses, who took a seat in the very front row. Others arrived in pairs, like the couple already stealing bites of each other’s food, the boy in the baseball hat that walked in laughing beside the one with long brown hair, and a pair of girls carrying identical ICEEs and whispering.

The man in the couple next to me leaned in to his girlfriend. “What do you remember about eighth grade?”

“Not much,” she replied.

He paused and then said, “I remember my dad taking me out of school for a week…” and then continued the story too quiet for me to hear.

I sat reading my book, listening to the mumbles of surrounding conversation, my mind wandering to where I was in eighth grade. I thought of the week I had pneumonia and how when I came back a number of my fellow classmates told me they thought I died. I remembered having crushes on boys that my best friend and I gave code names and wrote about in notebooks that we passed back and forth between classes. I thought about my hair and what a nightmare (at least I thought) it was, and how I refused to take it out of a bun unless it was flat-ironed. Also, the pink pants, but I tried not to harp on those, it was the early 2000s.

After a while, people started to get restless, and when I looked at my watch, I understood why. Before I could form an opinion on the matter however, a theater employee walked in to inform us that the movie would not be playing. He offered his sincerest apologies and assured us we would get a refund and a coupon. Glancing around at each other, we all stood up, most of us shrugging and exchanging short anecdotes like, “well that sucks.”

As we stood in line for our coupons, I got the same feeling I always get after I walk out of a movie. That sense of camaraderie with my fellow moviegoers, knowing we’d just gone on the same journey together, even though in this case the journey was much shorter than we might have preferred.

On my way back to the car, I glanced at my phone. Since I’d spent a good amount of time looking over the showtimes earlier in the day, I remembered something about a 5:15 showing at a theater down the road. I tucked my coupon in my pocket and picked up my pace. I had 15 minutes. I could make it.

Hustling to the line at the second theater, I waited patiently, alternating my gaze between my feet, the ticket window and my watch. In a look back a few minutes later, I recognized a few of the faces getting in line behind me. A girl with a blonde bun piled on top of her head; a boy in a baseball cap followed closely by a boy with long brown hair; a man about my dad’s age with a red shirt and glasses. Each of them held a gift certificate in their hand, waiting patiently while trying not to look at their watches.

Once I was in the new theater, I again took a seat by myself, again noting the couples, groups and other singles that filed into the theater one after the other. My instincts were to feel self-conscious. I was here alone after all, and eighth grade me would have died at the thought. But as the lights went down and the conversations I wasn’t a part of began to fade out, I realized how far gone I was from eighth grade me. And as I watched the movie and laughed and cried and cringed with everyone about the things we all went through at that age, I was reminded how far we’ve all come since then.

Without going through what we did, the movie might not have been as funny, and it might not have made us (or hey, at least me) cry. We wouldn’t have cringed or “aww-ed” or wanted to hug the hell out of Kayla (the main character played by Elsie Fisher) because we wouldn’t have understood how much better things get. How much more we were going learn and experience and discover. We wouldn’t know that eighth grade is ugly but life is beautiful. That life becomes beautiful because eighth grade is ugly, and how it repeats this cycle throughout every stage that follows.

So as credits began to roll and the lights came back up, we all looked around at each other and smiled. We were filled with that feeling of camaraderie, but this time it wasn’t only because of what we’d gone through today, it was because of everything we’d gone through since the day we stepped foot into eighth grade, and every step we’d taken after. We knew were in this together, and that unlike our eighth grade selves, we weren’t afraid to admit that that mattered.

To the People Who Get My Organs

I’m an organ donor. I’ve got the sticker on my license and everything. And when I die—which hopefully will be in a timely manner, but you never know—I hope my body can piñata it’s way into the hands of people who need it more than I will.

To those people, whether you’re reading this on my blog, or on some kind of high tech floating orb in the mid 2000s, first off, hey! I totally used to be alive and typing this in my living room. Super sorry I’m dead so we can’t meet, but super glad my deadness can provide you with some superior aliveness. But before you take one—or more if it’s a perfect match/buffet type of situation—of my organs, I just wanted to provide you with some you should know’s about said organs that might help you acclimate quicker.

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1) My eyes

I’ve always liked my eyes. I think they’re a good shade of brown—not too, you know, just brown­—and they have kickass vision. If you’re lucky enough to get them in the same shape they’re in right now, expect a lot of people to ask you, “what does that say up there?” because somehow you’ll be able to see it and you won’t know why. But watch out, you’ll also have a tendency to try and read too fast and you’ll mix words up. So just keep it cool and take your time. That is, unless you’re playing Jeopardy at home with your family, then by all means, read the question quicker than everyone else so you can answer first and win a point.

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2) My Lungs

Let me tell you, the three of us have been on quite the journey. When I was in high school, I was convinced I had what I called “baby lungs” that were too weak to function (a.k.a run) when really I was just out of shape and needed to push through the hard part. So if you get one or both of these bad boys, expect some push back should you ever try to strive for any athletic accomplishments. But don’t let them win! They are strong and they are capable of a hell of a lot, you just need to give ‘em time to warm up.

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3) My Liver

My liver and I actually have a very good relationship. We’re like the Gilmore Girls but with less coffee. Sure there are times when we’ve hurt each other, but we worked through it and came out stronger than ever. So just treat my liver like Rory would Lorelai and vice versa, and never shy away from a good pun in times of need.

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4) My Kidneys

I’m not gonna lie, I actually had to look up what kidneys do—which FYI is remove waste and excess water from the blood—so I could feel properly prepared to prep you. Good news is, from what I’ve read, I treat my kidneys like fine wine! I’m an avid water drinker, which is the kidney equivalent of catnip. That being said, you might want to invest in a large—say, 32 ounces or so—reusable water bottle, as these guys are constantly craving that good H20. Straight up.

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5) My Skin

For those of you who might be needing either a skin sweater and/or a quilty like patch job, I have answers, but I also have questions. First off, we burn easily y’all. But then, would that even come into play? From what I’m reading, it really all depends on what kind of trouble the universe has put you in. If you really truly do get a big chunk of this epidermis and it works all Freaky Friday like, expect a lot of goosebumps and the occasional pop up of eczema with no rhyme or reason. Also: FRECKLES. Because when we don’t burn, we freckle like it’s our job. I’m looking down at my arms right now and it’s like the night sky up in here. I hope you get Orion’s Belt, that’s one of my favorites.

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6) My Bones

These guys have been through a lot, but I like to think they like me more than they hate me, so I assume they’ll feel the same about you. They like to crack a lot, but try to think of it as their way of saying “hi” rather than “help.” They like yoga, but they love lying down after long day of work. Also, they love ice cream. Because, you know, calcium. So make sure you get at least a few servings every week.

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7) My Heart

When I say this gal is in the right place, I mean that both literally and figuratively. I was literally born with my heart in the right place—because FYI you can be born with it in the wrong place, I am learning so much right now—and I also often feel the old girl pushing and pulling me to do what’s right. Also, expect a lot of pounding. She tends to get a little worked up when she sees something that she likes or something that makes her nervous. She’ll settle down though. Try chewing through a pack of fruity Mentos and putting on good playlist.

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I’ll admit, it’s a little weird talking about giving you my organs. Especially since they’re so cozy and upbeat on the inside of living me right now. But I have faith they’ll treat you right. And hey, if all else fails, try kettle corn and a John Cusack movie, that usually puts all of us in this body at ease.

 

 

 

Strain the Stir (Episode 4): I’ve Leveled Up!

Hello and welcome back to another episode of Strain Then Stir, a no-cameras, diary-esque cooking show blog where I attempt to transform myself from a two-meal Tina into a full course Frank…or at the very least, be capable of feeding myself more than cereal and pasta.

In the time since our last episode, and I don’t want to get cocky, but I think it’s safe to say I’ve leveled up.

As mentioned in my latest favorites post, I recently signed up for Imperfect Produce, which is a company that sells you fruits and vegetable which, while perfectly edible and delicious, are not quite “pretty” enough to be sold in stores. I signed up for the small box that comes every two weeks, and each Thursday before I get a new box, I get an email giving me the option to customize it.

Now, in an effort to improve my cooking ~skills~ I’ve tried not to make too many adjustments to each prepared box. Often when I log in to make my customizations, I just remove the foods I don’t like (such as lettuce or cilantro) and then leave the rest the same. That way, when I receive my box, I’m forced to look up recipes that incorporate both the ingredients I’ve been given and those I have in my kitchen, and I do my best to make something delicious!

Here are some of my favorite creations so far:

Steak & Nectarine Salad

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In one of my first boxes I received two nectarines. And since I’d never even tried a nectarine, I was not only worried whether I would like them, but I also had no idea how I could use them in a recipe. When I found this one however, I was sold. I even made a separate trip to the grocery store to pick up a cheap cut of steak. It was worth it. (Note: For anyone out there who is a fellow lettuce hater, I forwent it in this recipe and it was still absolutely delicious!) (Find the recipe here)

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Red Onions & Feta

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I am no stranger to the magic that is sweet potatoes, so when I got one in my box, I had a number of ideas pop into my head. This one however, helped me figure out a good way to combine a few things that I already had, as well as use one of the red onions I got in my box as well. (Find the recipe here)

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Spaghetti Squash

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Being an avid watcher of Food Network and skimmer of cooking blogs, I’ve heard my fair share about spaghetti squash. But after receiving one in my box, I still had to Google what it actually was. I had no idea how to cut it or what you do with it afterwards, and I wondered if my carb worshipping ways would hinder my ability to give it a fair chance. Thankfully, it took all of one bite to fall head over heels in love. Now, I’m not saying I’m breaking up with pasta or anything, but you can put it on the record that I’m having a full blown affair. (Find the recipe here)

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Apricot Smoothie

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Apricots were another fruit that I’d seen around but had never really made up my mind whether I liked them or not. On an average shopping trip, I never would have picked some up, but when I had four arrive in one of my boxes, I had to expand my horizons a little. I’ll admit however, I did do a good amount of procrastinating on these. Every day I’d vow to either bring one with me to work as a snack or bake a few into some kind of dessert, but then every day I’d forget or get lazy or just plain not want to. Sooner or later however, the apricots (with an assist by the hot summer weather) took matters into their own hands. They started to fade fast, threatening to be completely wasted, and so I finally took the time to find them a home. The end result was delicious and jump started me on a smoothie kick, so I guess thanks is in order, apricots! (Note: I used almond milk instead of yogurt, and vanilla extract instead of almond extract because that’s all that I had. It still tasted good though, and gave my morning a good fresh start!) (Find recipe here)

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Bonus Recipes:

In the spirit of my growing cooking confidence, for my family’s Fourth of July barbecue I decided to branch out and make two special dishes. These weren’t based on anything that came in my Imperfect Produce boxes, but rather foods I thought my family would enjoy. Thankfully, they were both a hit!

Jalapeno and Goat Cheese Grilled Stuffed Mini Peppers

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My sister is lactose intolerant, so oftentimes holidays like the Fourth of July will offer a bunch of delicious foods that she can’t have. In order to try and combat that on one of her favorite holidays, I made these which feature two of her favorite things: goat cheese and spice. It was a super quick and easy to follow recipe and both she and my dad loved them! Also, if you don’t like/can’t handle spicy food (a.k.a me), I made a few with just goat cheese and they were delicious as well! (Find the recipe here)

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Banana Cream Pie Muddy Buddies

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These were for my mom. Growing up, she often made Muddy Buddies for a wide variety of get togethers, so when I found these, I naturally thought of her, both for that reason, and because she instantly loves anything banana flavored. One tip I have for this recipe a la my mom: pour your Chex mixture into freezer sized Ziploc bags when you are ready to mix in the powdered sugar. That way, rather than trying to keep it all contained in a bowl, simply pour the sugar into the bag, zip it up and shake. (Find the recipe here)

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Here’s to another few months of trying my best, which, as it turns out, is getting better day by day! Who would’ve thought there was this great big world outside of pasta and cereal. (No offense pasta and cereal, I still love you.)


Read the previous episode of Strain then Stir here.

The Last Thing on My Phone

While scrolling around the black hole of YouTube, I found a series from both WIRED and Glamour that asks celebrities to answer questions based on the “last ____ on their phone.” It’s an alternative interview to give actors and actresses that are on press tours for whatever new movie/television show/etc. they are starring in.

For the average YouTube consumer, these may be relatively boring interviews, but for whatever reason I can’t get enough of them. I like to think it gives me a more realistic picture of the person being interviewed and provides them with a new set of questions to answer rather than the same old spiel they’ve been toting around. I’m also just plan nosey, so there’s that.

The other night, I was sitting at the table with my roommates and I decided we should answer the same set of questions, just to see what we came up with. Here were the results:

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1) What is the last photo you took?

Rachel: This is the last photo I personally took rather than screenshotted, and it’s pretty great. It’s from just outside a dive bar right near Dodger Stadium and I just thought I needed to…well look: IMG_7104

Natalee: I have this one of the two of us (meaning her and I) celebrating [our friend] Nicollette’s birthday this past weekend.

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Me: Mine was also from Nicollette’s birthday, but it’s of this cool window.

Natalee: Yeah, that sounds like you.

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(Note: if you’re ever in the Ventura area, check out The Tavern. It’s a really cool bar made up of a series of different rooms/outside areas, one of which is a speakeasy type room where I took this photo, right before we started dancing to swing music.)

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2) What is the last thing you Googled?

Natalee: “Paprika spinners chips.” Rachel and I were talking about types of Cheetos and then I found these and I wanted to order them on Amazon but they aren’t on Amazon so I Googled them and it turns out they’re only sold in the Netherlands. So…

Rachel: I have two that I made right around the same time. First is Natalie Imbruglia who sings “Torn”, that song that came out when we were kids. And then the other is Heaven’s Gate, a cult I was recently researching. I’m big into cults right now.

Kim: I was trying to look up which skateboarding competitions Shaun White was going to be in to see if we could go watch any.

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3) What is your last text?

Rachel: I mean, technically my last one is just, “oh yeah.”

Natalee: I sent one to our roomie group message asking Rach what kind of ice cream/donuts/Hot Cheetos we should get on our snack run.

Kim: Yeah the last one I sent was in response to Rachel’s response to that, which is this Bitmoji of me casually skateboarding with a raccoon.

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4) How many alarms do you have set?

Rachel: Oh gosh. Oh, actually I only have two right now. One is for 3:00 a.m. and another is 11:15 a.m.

Me: I don’t think I have very many. Nope, just four. One for work, one for church, one for naps, and one to take my pill at night.

Natalee: I must have some kind of record. I have 15 different alarms and they range from 3:55 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. They’re not all set at once, some are set for just Wednesdays, some Tuesdays and Sundays, some just for Saturday, you know? My favorite one is for 7:01 a.m. because I’m usually supposed to be up by 7 o’clock for work and that one extra minute makes me feel like I’m being risky.

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5) What are your most frequently used emojis?

Rachel: My phone says these: face-throwing-a-kiss_1f618heavy-black-heart_2764expressionless-face_1f611thumbs-up-sign_emoji-modifier-fitzpatrick-type-1-2_1f44d-1f3fb_1f3fbsmiling-face-with-smiling-eyes_1f60a  But if I were going to go with my most frequent I would definitely say this one: i-love-you-hand-sign_emoji-modifier-fitzpatrick-type-1-2_1f91f-1f3fb_1f3fb I’m not sure why it’s not in the top ones, though. Actually, now that I look at it, I have a train on my frequently used that I’ve definitely never used before. I also have a motorcycle and a gondola? I don’t even know where these came from.

Natalee: Mine also seem kind of messed up, so I’m just going to give you the ones I know I use the most: face-with-tears-of-joy_1f602sign-of-the-horns_emoji-modifier-fitzpatrick-type-1-2_1f918-1f3fb_1f3fbwoman-shrugging-type-3_1f937-1f3fc-200d-2640-fe0fyellow-heart_1f49bface-with-rolling-eyes_1f644

Me: I think mine are pretty accurate: face-with-tears-of-joy_1f602smiling-face-with-heart-shaped-eyes_1f60dnerd-face_1f913thumbs-up-sign_1f44dsmiling-face-with-smiling-eyes_1f60a

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6) What is your last voicemail?

Me: Mine is from my dad. It’s from a couple of weeks ago when my car started making this bad grinding noise and I called him to come check what it was. We decided to take it to the shop the next morning but he followed me home just in case and then left a voicemail telling me that in following me it didn’t appear as though my car was going to blow up before morning. So that was nice to hear.

Natalee: Mine is from some random company saying that it’s “very important” that they speak with me, I didn’t call them back.

Rachel: Mine is from CVS and they’re practically threatening me to pick up a prescription I don’t even want.

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7) What is the last selfie you took?

Me: Mine is with our sunflowers that I took for one of the Plant Aunt videos. (For those of you who don’t follow me on Instagram, I’ve recently been documenting the growth of the sunflowers we planted in the backyard. It’s essentially me rambling/trying to stay involved because Natalee does all the work in watering them. Also, I’m pretty sure the neighbors think I’m crazy.)

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Natalee: Mine is too! I had a full on sunflower photo shoot the other day.

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Rachel: Oh no. You guys…

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8) What is the last app you downloaded?

Natalee: Ballpark. It was from when I was at the Dodger game getting to sit in the fancy seats for a day and this app let you order beer to be delivered to you!

Rachel: Mine is probably Game Time, that app that lets you download tickets on the day of a concert or sporting event.

Me: I don’t know which one was last. It was either Runtastic, which is a running app that is partnered with Run for the Oceans, or The ASL App which I got because I want to learn sign language, but I haven’t opened that one yet.

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9) What is the last podcast you listened to?

Rachel: Ooh! Dr. Laura, Call of the Day.

Natalee: S-Town.

Me: Modern Love.

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10) What is the last note you made?

Natalee: Mine is boring, it’s just work notes that I typed up and then sent in an email.

Me: Five minutes ago, when you guys were discussing your opinions on Cheetos, that’s a blog post waiting to happen. (Natalee picked up a few different bags of Hot Cheetos during our aforementioned snack run and then she and Rachel sat at the table and had a very professional opinion on which Hot Cheeto flavor reigns supreme, stay tuned for those results.)

Rachel: It’s notes for a calendar that I’m working on full of daily quotes that sound like they should be inspirational, but they really aren’t… (Also stay tuned for this, y’all, it sounds hilarious.)

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All in all, I’d say it was both an educational and overall enjoyable experience. It’s interesting to check in on where you’re at with your phone, especially since we spend so many mindless hours staring at it. Plus, it’s always fun to be a little nosey.

For that One Person

It’s easy to want to be famous. To get a lot of attention. A lot of views. A lot of love from a lot of people you don’t know. It would make you feel important. Valuable. Loved. At least that’s what it seems like it would be.

I’ll admit, I struggle with both wanting that fame, and wanting to not want that fame, but I don’t fault myself for it. I love writing. And to gain fame, and thus gain value in the writing field, would give me the chance to make writing my one and only job.

But when I think about “fame” and all that it entails, I know I don’t really want it. I want to write, yes. I want it to be my job, yes. But I don’t want to write because it’s my job, because that’s not why I started writing in the first place.

I started writing because someone else started writing, or singing or making movies or simply smiling or laughing or just feeling honestly and openly for me to see. I started writing because I wanted to be as open and free as the people I saw doing the same thing. I wanted to feel and I wanted to make other people feel.

When I write, I try to spill out whatever I’m thinking, be it a serious thought, a goofy one, or somewhere in between. I try my best to say, “hey, this is where I’m at today, care to join me?” And it is my hope that somewhere someone is sitting or standing or lying down, reading that blog and saying, “yes.”

I write for that one person, hoping I can do for them what someone else did for me, even if it was just being honest. And when I think about doing that—or even better: accomplishing that, I realize that in no life would I ever need “fame,” because I imagine I have something far greater.

The way I see it, I’ve been given love, and I share that love (or at least I try to) in my writing. And if someone somewhere receives that love and then passes it on, I’ve already done the most important thing I could ever do.

For you, the person reading this, I hope that someday I can do that for you. And I also hope that whatever you do, you try your best to spread love with it. I hope you’re out there, living your life, living your love, feeling open and honestly, because you never know who’s going to need you. As you go about your day, there very well may be someone in your path who needs you to be exactly who you are, because it will inspire them to do the same. I for one am happy you’re you and I hope you know how much it encourages me to be me.

2018 Goals Check-in #2

Whoops, I blinked and now it’s July. Time to check in on those goals.

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1) Do a handstand in yoga

1st Quarter Progress: 33.33%

Current Progress: 33.33%

I’ve definitely made more of an effort to go to yoga classes these last couple months, which is good, and I’ve been working hard at strengthening my arms at the gym. Now I just have to start trying to do a handstand. I’m only slightly terrified, but I’ll give it a go.

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2) Take a kickboxing class

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

Unfortunately, I have not got around to this quite yet. The last few months have been extremely busy, so when I do squeeze in the time to exercise, I usually stick to what I know. But the next few months are a lot slower paced, so hopefully I’ll venture out and find a class.

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3) Visit (at least) 20 museums in Los Angeles

1st Quarter Progress: 4/20 (5%)

Current Progress: 4/20 (5%)

This is another one that has fallen victim to my lack of time over the last three months. I think any spare moment I could find I spent sitting on the couch or trying to nap. That being said, with the beautiful summer weather sliding into play, I have no doubts I’ll find my way into more than a few museums over the next couple months, if only for the free air conditioning.

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4) Get CPR certified

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

This one is still on hold until the fall because my aunt offered to take me with her when she gets re-certified before the coming school year. That being said, please hold all emergencies until September.

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5) Shoot (at least) 1 roll of film per month

1st Quarter Progress: 3/12 (25%)

Current Progress: 6/12 (50%)

I’ll admit, those first couple rolls were a little rough on me. Both because it was hard to get back into the groove of shooting film, and because it was awkward to be behind an actual camera rather than a tiny phone. I felt like I was making everyone uncomfortable, but I’m pretty sure the only one that cared was me. Thankfully, these last few months have felt a lot more natural, and I’m genuinely excited to get my film developed.

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6) Complete the 104 things to Photograph book

1st Quarter Progress: 10/104 (9.62%)

Current Progress: 23/104 (22.12%)

This one continues to be kind of hard to track because I take pictures of things and have no idea if they correspond to the list or not. So once I get all my film developed and scroll through the pictures I’ve taken on my phone, I think I’ll have a better idea of where I’m at. But for now, I’m taking a guess based on things I know I’ve taken a picture of.

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7) Visit the sea glass beach in Fort Bragg, CA

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

I did some research on flights/how to get there/etc. and as of now, my roommates and I are planning on making the trip this fall! 🙂

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8) Go to the dentist

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 100%

Yes, I went to the dentist. No, it was not fun.

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9) Watch 20 documentaries on Netflix

1st Quarter Progress: 4/20 (20%)

Current Progress: 4/20 (20%)

Honestly, I blame The Office for this one. I mean, I know I need to make more progress on this, but I also know that Jim and Pam just found out they’re pregnant. So I kind of need to see that (and three more seasons) through before I can really care about re-commit to this goal.

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10) Perfect an omelet

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 0%

I’m still on the hunt for a good omelet worthy pan. Anyone have any good suggestions?

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11) See (at least) one movie in theaters per month

1st Quarter Progress: 3/12 (25%)

Current Progress: 6/12 (50%)

Even though things have been busy, I haven’t missed a month yet! Plus, this summer promises a bunch of good movies, so I don’t think I’ll have any trouble continuing to find ones I’m interested in seeing. Here’s a list of all the ones I’ve seen so far. In case your curious, I’d say A Quiet Place is my favorite so far.

  1. I, Tonya
  2. Call Me By Your Name
  3. Maze Runner: The Death Cure
  4. 50 Shades Freed
  5. Red Sparrow
  6. I Can Only Imagine
  7. A Quiet Place
  8. Book Club
  9. Incredibles 2

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12) Read 20 books off the Time’s 100 List

1st Quarter Progress: 2/20 (10%)

Current Progress: 6/20 (30%)

I really tried to crack down on this one in the last few months, and it didn’t hurt that I spent a good amount of time waiting around in airports. The funny thing is, the more books I check off this list, the more I wonder if I’ll ever make it through this list. The books are tough, and long, and um, boring? Okay, not all of them, but I have struggled through a couple, and I’ll admit, I did quit on one. However, I’m still counting it because I made it 60% through, which is more than I wanted to, and I heard there’s a movie version so I’m just going to watch that and round it up to finishing the book. Hey, my goal, my rules.

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13) Pay off credit card

Current Progress: Progress

Yeah so, let’s just say progress has slowed on this one. It hasn’t stopped, which is what counts. But these past few months have held *expenses* and I’ve had to crutch a little. I’m not worried about it though, I’ll get there.

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14) See 3 WRLA’s – COMPLETED!

While on a trip to Seattle and Canada this past month, I was unexpectedly able to complete this goal, seeing the World’s Largest Cowboy Hat & Boots in Seattle, WA, the World’s Largest Paper Airplane in Mukilteo, WA, and the World’s Largest Tin Solider in New Westminster, BC, Canada!

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15) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

1st Quarter Progress 0/5 (0%)

Current Progress: 2/5 (40%)

I’m excited to say I’ve found my way back into the groove of volunteering! It always takes all of one time for me to remember how much I love it and how good it makes me feel. After that, I’m constantly logging on and finding new opportunities. I’ve volunteered twice in the last couple months and already have three more dates on the calendar. Yay!

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16) Donate Blood

1st Quarter Progress: 0%

Current Progress: 100%

As I mentioned in my first check-in, I did have an appointment to donate blood at my church. And while I did go to that appointment, I did not give blood. Not because I chickened out, not because I overslept, not because I made any excuse whatsoever not to. My iron levels were just way too low, so I was physically unable to give blood. With that being said, I have decided that, for now at least, this goal is completed. I’ve also started taking iron supplements and done a lot of research on ways to start incorporating iron rich foods into my diet. Who knew this goal would be so educational?

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17) Do the 1 second/day video challenge

1st Quarter Progress: 95/365 (26.03%)

Current Progress: 185/365 (50.68%)

I totally love this goal. Sure, it’s a little stressful when it’s 11:47p.m. and I sit up in my bed, panicked, realizing I didn’t take my second of the day. But I also love to see what I come up with in a pinch. The way I see it, on days when I’m out doing something exciting, it’s easy to remember to whip out my camera and record a snippet, but when I have a normal/routine day where nothing of interest really happens, I have more trouble. On those days, when that 11:47p.m. panic might take place, I find myself working through my routine again and picking out parts of it that I like/find interesting. In my first check-in, I gave a little sneak peak of what the seconds look like strewn together, but I think I’m going to keep the rest a secret for now. Stay tuned for the final product!

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When we add that all together, my total progress is about 34%. As always, I’m a little behind, but I’ve found that tends to push me forward. It keeps me motivated and doesn’t give me room to slack off, which I need, especially when the thermometer is about to start reading consistent triple digits and all I’m going to want to do is sit around watching rom-coms and eating popsicles. (Though to be honest, I’ll probably still do that pretty often.)

If you set goals this year, I hope things are going well for you, and if you didn’t, it’s never too late to start! 🙂