Sunday, August 29, 2010

Companies that do good

As was mentioned in a previous post, Tom's of Maine is one of the top rated companies. Well, upon looking at their website [] I am obsessed. You can donate 5% of your paid time to VOLUNTEER when you are an employee!!!! How awesome is that?! So buy their stuff!!! The products may be a wee bit more spendy, but I figure I'll just give up a few cups of coffee [which is better for me anyways] and won't use all the chemicals and crap that comes in the cheap stuff. Give a little more, get better results I say.

New Addition to the Miller Family!

This is our new pal that has joined our family! He is a labradoodle, which is such a funny word to me. I haven't met him yet. His name is Cooper. I am looking forward to meeting him as I have greatly missed having a dog!

My Thoughts on...The Emmys [because you're dying to know I'm sure]


This past evening I sat and watched the Emmys with two friends in its entirety. Although I was torn that it was Pop Culture Trivia Night on campus and we all know I would have cleaned up because of my wide array of useless facts [but would have felt bad about stealing the $500 prize from a college student], I was very satisfied with my decision to sit with said friends and share cupcakes and sparkling apple cider. I'll admit I had mixed feelings about the outcome of the Emmys in spite of having looked forward to them ever since I'd heard Glee had received a whopping nineteen noms [that's short for "nominations" in case you didn't catch that. I think that's how they say it in the biz]. I had renamed the Emmys the "Glee-mmys" because Glee was so overly represented, which I did think was incredibly clever of me if I may bang my own drum or toot my own horn, whichever you prefer. This alone should gain me admission to grad school--pure, unadulturated BRILLIANCE [the stuff PhD's are made of]. Unfortunately, my renaming of the Emmys turned out to be completely inaccurate, useless and unnecessary, as they decided to SNUB Glee and they only won a few awards and they were robbed, ROBBED I SAY! I may be a little biased though, because, along with every other award show I watch, I've only seen about 5 percent of the things that are up for awards, so of course my allegiance always lies with those that I've seen which is completely unfair. But in this case, I don't care, because Glee kicks a$$.

However, there were some top moments:
1. The opener to the show. And I found Jimmy Fallon to be completely hilarious.
2. My three favorite women were in one room: Tina Fey, Mariska Hargitay and Lea Michele.
3. Tai texting me, "Is Al Pacino drunk and wearing a bump it?" I asked myself that same question.
4. Sharing cupcakes with Rachel and Beth! Yippee!!!!

The downsides:
1. The aforementioned snubs of Glee
2. Was it just me or did the freaking Movie/Mini Series section take up like the WHOLE SHOW?! Argh! I was def b-o-r-e-d by like the second award.
3. On top of Glee getting snubbed, so did Mariska! Good thing I bought that "Good Housekeeping" magazine with her on the cover. You're my gal Mariska. And according to that article, a good Christian woman too. Reason #534 why I love you.
4. Do you know how incredibly upsetting it is to see Matthew Morrison [Mr. Schuester on Glee] walk down the carpet DATELESS and know that you could be on his arm? And in "you" I mean ME. It hurts! He could have cried on my shoulder when he didn't win. Let it out Matt. I don't know why I'm shocked as Matt certainly falls in category #3 for men I'm interested in: "Not in the West Hartford vicinity." I mean, I know I would totally have a shot if I lived in L.A...right?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Two things that have greatly enhanced my life

So, I've been reading a lot of books lately about food--you know, how my food makes its way to my dinner plate, how it's processed, where it comes from, all that good stuff. The journey has been fascinating and I've been trying to eat less processed sh!& and more wholesome "real" food, and, believe it or not I'm ACTUALLY considering becoming a vegan [yeah, never thought THAT would happen], although with that said there are two things holding me back: 1) Pizza 2) Cupcakes. I realize you could find vegan versions of both of these, but please! Gimme the real deal. Anywho, I was watching a show and they featured Alicia Silverstone who is apparently a vegan and she suggested these delightful little Rice Dream treats as a dairy free option. My goodness. I nearly lost my mind when I consumed said goody. They are an oatmeal cookie sandwich with rice ice cream [sounds weird but you really can't tell the diff] covered in chocolate and they come in four flavors and AHHHHH. I want one now! AND they're nutritionally not horrible for you--I mean a lot of calories, but the food itself is wholesome and good. Anywho, as you can tell from my previous blog posts, I have really been working on being socially conscious in my life like a good hippie should be, and my friend Callie sent me this AWESOME book.
I'm super obsessed with it. Basically, you could look up something like "condiments" and it will tell you all the "good" companies to buy from [they rate them on a variety of factors--everything from human rights to environmental impact, to community involvement], and they get a grade of A-F. Well, it turns out I consume things from a lot of companies that fail...oops. NO MORE. Or, at least, I'm trying not to anymore. Every little bit helps, eh? Oh, and fair warning to the world: these are the top 10 horrible "corporate villains"--don't give your money to them! Boo! Bleh!

1. Exxon-Mobil (shouldn't be a shocker)
2. Kraft
3. Wal-Mart
4. Chevron-Texaco
5. Pfizer
6. Nestle (ugh! Don't get me started on them! We learned about them in class and UGH--and if they're only sixth on the list we're in trouble)
7. General Electric
8. Archer Daniels Midland
9. General Motors
10. Tyson Foods

But the 10 Best, you ask?!
1. Seventh Generation (yeah! that's totally what my laundry detergent is right now!)
2. Working Assets
3. Eden Foods
4. Organic Valley
5. Clif Bar
6. Honest Tea
7. Patagonia
8. Tom's of Maine
9. Ben and Jerry's (I was REAL happy about this one)
10. Aveda

Look people. I realize I may hit my proverbial drum often about this, but all I'm advocating for is thinking a little more about where we spend our hard earned cash-ola. My opinion is, if you're going to spend it, you might as well make a difference with it. You can look at many of my other posts about how I feel about social consciousness, but like I said, all I ask from the good people of planet earth is to think a little bit more before spending the dough.

A Small Aside

It appears that all men I am interested in fall into one of three categories:

2. Taken
3. Not in the general West Hartford, CT vicinity


Monday, August 16, 2010

"The Education of Shelby Knox"

I watched this documentary yesterday. If you ever have a moment where you think to yourself "I would like to learn something today, or perhaps broaden my perspective," then I urge you to bust out this sucker. The movie is about a 15-year-old high school girl named...Shelby Knox [shocker, I know]. See, she lives in the town of Lubbock, Texas which is highly evangelical and highly conservative where their sex education consists of "abstinence only." Unfortunately for Lubbock, they have extremely high teen pregnancy/STI rates [oh and side note: it turns out the "P.C." term now for "STD" is "STI" or "Sexually Transmitted Infection." I don't care how you sell it, I don't want it]. Anywho, Shelby is fighting for a more comprehensive sex ed program in her school--basically they would teach that abstinence is the only sure fire way to fight unwanted pregnancy/STI's, but they would also teach you things such as *gasp* how to use condoms just in case *gasp* all teenagers have sex, and various other types of birth control. Of course, this throws her conservative town up in arms and the documentary is really about her asking a lot of questions, coming to term with her "liberal" viewpoint, and what that means for her as a Christian. A good part of the movie is devoted to her fighting for the rights of a group of gay kids at her school, and how she reconciles her own beliefs that homosexuals should be treated as equals with a faith that says homosexuality is a sin.

I absolutely loved this movie, probably because I identify with Shelby's character on so many levels--more than what I can even say here. There is this one scene in particular where Shelby is talking to her pastor who explains to her that he cannot believe in a comprehensive sex ed program because if he does it seems like he's condoning having sex outside of marriage when it's immoral and Shelby says to him, "Look. I made a vow to wait until I was married to have sex. But I can recognize that not everyone has the same support systems I do--be that church, family, or whatever that help me along with that decision." I wish I had that good of a sociological imagination at that age. This to me was extremely poignant, I mean we could learn a lot from a 15 year old, that is for sure. She still has her beliefs, she still holds her ground for what was good for her, but recognized that others just don't come from the same background as her, and she fights for it so that they can have better lives because they will have better education. I love that. I think we could take a lot away from that if we could just get past getting freaked out about how America is supposedly going to hell in a hand basket. It just seems so much better this way. I realize I'm walking on a slippery slope for a lot of people, be it I suppose. Well, anyways, go watch the movie and see what you think for yourself.

Things That Happened Today

1. Cute cable guy came to campus. Wife. Damn.
2. Procrastinated on GRE studying. No shock there.
3. Talked with Amy on the phone. Delightful.
4. Organized my apartment. Clean as a whistle.
5. Going to try Starbucks VIA instant coffee tomorrow.
Cafeteria is closed all week where they hold the real coffee.
I almost died from being tired.
We all have to make sacrifices.
6. Rode my bike around town--twice because it was so fun.
7. Found a rock star rubber ducky from an event in my room
that has drumsticks and long hair. This made me smile.
8. Enjoyed two mini cake donuts.
9. I signed this pledge to better biking.
10. I decided I really love life. I already knew this, but today
I really slowed down and savored that thought.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Today I bought a bicycle. Tomorrow I will rule the world.

Well I did it! I bought a bike! It looks like this:Except for it is maroon. Normally I would take a picture of it, but as you know my camera's busted, so that's not going to work out. My bike buying experience was indeed a hoot--I got to ride six or seven bikes around the back lot of a bike shop in Newington, Connecticut. I was probably a really annoying customer as I was a walking contradiction--"I really want something comfortable...but that can go distances...but has high handlebars...but is light weight but has thicker tires..." Yeah, hot mess. The cute guy at the shop who was helping me eventually judged me when I walked out with a "comfort" bike verses the road bike he was trying to sell me but hurt my back and neck, but I didn't care as the other older guy who was also helping me said that I seemed like a very interesting person. Yes, yes I am. It turns out that there are all these neat bike riding events all around town, so I'm not sure if this makes me part of the cycling subculture quite yet, but I have a feeling I will be meeting some very interesting people soon. So today was my super green friendly day--I bought a bike [did you know for every four miles you ride on a bike it reduces carbon emissions by 15 pounds?! COOL!] and I washed my hair with a baking soda mixture in an effort to get away from the chemicals that reside in shampoo and most likely leak into my head killing my brain cells and then go down the drain and pollute. For the record, it worked quite well!!! My hair is indeed squeaky clean just as the blog I snagged the idea from said it would be [it's just a 1/2 cup baking soda and 2 cups warm water if you're interested. You have to shake it up a bit before you use it as the water and baking soda tend to separate]. NEAT.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


I would just like to thank everyone personally for the b-e-s-t birthday I have had thus far in my twenty five years. My birthday was freakin' awesome. I had so many messages and phone calls and little gifts that I just didn't expect. And a ridiculously good ice cream cake. And my grandma bought me cupcakes when I was in Cleveland. And I got a fruit bouquet from my family. Well I could just go on. Both last night and the night of my birthday people took me out for drinks and treats and were just super thoughtful and I felt loved from West Coast to the East Coast. Seriously. So thank you!!! I have the family and friends EVS!!!

Rainbows of Heaven

As many of you know I am a cookie fiend. While many may think my only allegiance aligns with cupcakes, you would be incorrect, as my zest for cupcakes often over shadows my love for cookies--mainly because I think cupcakes are sort of the "trendy" food right now, much like sushi was three or four years ago and pho is becoming now. I also really love Italy, and it is my personal goal to get there before I die, so I hope this whole "2012" thing is a myth because that would really put a wrench in things. Anywho, I have found that two of my favorite things have been combined into what is known as the Italian Rainbow Cookie. And I don't really mind rainbows, so maybe like two and a half of my favorite things. Scratch that, I love rainbows because they are synonymous with the gays and I love the gays. You could say that four of my favorite things reside in this cookie I suppose because they are CAKE cookies made to represent the Italian flag [hence the different color layers]. I even got to buy these cookies from an Italian bakery the other day with a real Italian [as in one of my RA's]. I'm all about moderation, but when it comes to these suckers I lose all's a good thing that God doesn't count calories on your birthday [or so I was you think that's true?] Even if calories aren't counted, I surely was in jeopardy of a cookie hangover, but it was totally worth it because these things are that good. Consider this a public service announcement: get yourself to your nearest local Italian bakery ASAP because you will NOT be disappointed.

I Like to Ride My Bicycle I Like to Ride My Bike

Well kids. Being somewhat of a commit-o-phobe tomorrow I am going to commit to buying a bike. This excites me a great deal, as I L-O-V-E bike riding. There are also a great many benefits [See: Benefits of Cycling]. I'll be reducing my carbon footprint AND improving my health, two things I really like. Woohoo!

Just to Clarify

I had a conversation with a friend today and I thought it would be worthy to clarify:
"Feminist" does NOT mean "Man Hater." In fact, I love men a great deal. That is all.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Can Money Buy Happiness?

I found this article fascinating:

I suppose this all goes in line with my simplification of life. The woman in the article manages to whittle her personal items down to 100. I think I have more than that in my living room alone. Oh geez. Here we go...a new challenge...

And I think this is my new favorite blog by a woman who became a minimalist:


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Food For Thought

Oh I just crack myself up sometimes. Get it?! Pun INTENDED. So I was asked what was on my reading list this year, and "The Omnivore's Dilemma" has been lingering on that list for quite a while, but it's general thickness seemed to keep deterring me as I tend to have A.D.D. when it comes to thick books [which I sure better get over A.S.A.P. if I'm pursuing the P.H.D.]. Anywho, I cracked that sucker open the other day and let me tell you, it is an interesting read if you need something to tickle and stimulate your brain cells. Don't read it if you do not want to change your diet. In fact, spoiler alert: don't read THIS blog if you don't want to change the way you eat. The Omnivore's Dilemma is basically this idea that human beings get the chance to actually PICK their diet. Carnivores eat meat--a little limited choice wise. Koala bears [herbivores] eat eucalyptus leaves. If it doesn't taste like a eucalyptus leaf, they don't eat it. But us--we can eat both--and so we are faced with the responsibility of choosing what it is exactly we eat. Well, it turns out that given several governmental policies and changes in history and, of course our beloved capitalism we are choosing to eat a whole hell of a lot of corn. That sh** is in EVERYTHING. To quote Michael Pollan, the author, we are "walking corn chips with legs." Corn is in our meat. It's in Coca Cola. It's in most processed foods. It's even in the stuff that makes magazines glossy. Wowzas. I can't get into all the reasons that this is detrimental to us [that's why you have to read the book], but I WILL tell you that I'm trying to cut out the corn in my diet. I had gone to Trader Joe's yesterday, which was great because I love that store, and I had been looking for not a ton of processed foods, you know, just to be conscious of what I am putting in my body. And even though I was conscious of this while walking through the store, I STILL ended up with 3 or 4 items that had, you guessed it...CORN. Blech. I suppose that my body being inundated with corn just can't be healthy and really grosses me out, so I'm going to try to stay away from it. This works in my favor health wise, because just yesterday I saw some Skittles that I would normally snack on which have zero nutritional value and are well...fake. But, given my knowledge of corn and what was in them, I just imagined little mini ears of corn which let me tell you was enough to deter me.

As a birthday present to me, Oprah decided to interview Michael Pollan, the author of the book. She's so thoughtful. Well, thoughtful to rerun that program on my birthday. Thanks Oprah, especially for putting yourself out there after that whole beef law suit--that was a little risky, but you know what, you did it.


Is it just me or does Lea Michele look REALLY weird on the cover of the new Glee Season 1, Volume 2 cover? I'm not sure what it is about the angle of her body or what, but she looks armless. Hmmmm...just a thought.

Amy's Wedding

The bride and I

As many of you may or may not know, my friend Amy's wedding was last Friday, and what a momentous occasion it was indeed [although I needed a four hour nap and twelve hours of sleep to recover afterwords]. This wedding was especially important because Amy has been in my life for fifteen years [my neighbor across the street], and is not only the first Katsma child to get married, but also the only daughter out of five children [it's OK if you're thinking 'awwwww']. Needless to say it was a fun week, and apart from getting solicited for a one night stand at a bar by a very intoxicated young man during the Bachelorette party, I'd call it a success [though...I guess some people might count the aforementioned event as success, so I guess it's all about your perspective]. I made new friends. I mastered the "Hoedown Throwdown" which I NEVER thought would enter not only my musical repertoire but also my dance repertoire. I gave a toast and didn't forget what I was going to say. I ate a lot of cake. I was told I looked like Lea Michele of Glee fame at least five times [yessss]. While many of us thought we were going to melt into puddles much like the Wicked Witch of the West due to the surfeit amount of heat that had been ravaging the valley a few days beforehand, God decided to shine great favor upon us by draping a proverbial blanket over the sun and providing a lovely cloud cover that kept us all April fresh, or at least August Fresh, which doesn't seem to be quite as fresh as April, but is still much better then what it could have been.

Perhaps the best moment of the wedding [minus the exchange of vows and commitment of love of course] was when the bridal party was exiting the ceremony. Amy had thought it would be neat-o to dance out to Chris Brown's "Forever," similar to the YouTube phenomenon of last year, and that was parodied on the hit show "The Office." I thought this was an awesome idea as I enjoy any opportunity to make a spectacle of/draw attention to myself. Many of us worked on busting our moves pre-wedding, though none of us could have practiced enough for what was to come. My new found friend Liss said that her and the groomsman she was dancing with [our beloved Jason Katsma, the youngest of the Katsma clan] needed to make a "good exit, because we're the last ones out." And they did just that. At the end of their exit, Liss jumped into J's arms and J ran off into the sunset and...crashed and burned, dumping Liss and himself squarely on the ground, and earning a grass stain on his tux. Highly embarrassing and highly hilarious. I think the people at the tux rental place will no doubt be scratching their heads wondering if this was a wrestling themed wedding. An ab workout was not needed that day, as I had a good hard giggle. There is a video on facebook if you care to take a gander. Every time I watch it I think, "Maybe it won't happen this time...ohhhh it comes." You watch out America's Funniest Home Videos, we're coming your way. Although, unfortunately I don't think I'm entitled to any cut of the money as I am not really an integral part of the comedy. Dammit I wish I lost my balance more often when carrying bridesmaids down the aisle!!!

Now, as many of you know, I've been super into buying locally as of late [I'm going to the Farmer's Market in West Hartford on Saturday and I am chomping at the bit as I cannot wait!], henceforth why I found one of the presents that Amy selected for the bridesmaids particularly beautiful: and let me tell you why. It turns out that one of her now-husband's neighbors on Whidbey Island has some sort of disease--I want to say cystic fibrosis but don't quote me on that. This girl's father bought her a kiln, and taught her to make jewelry out of broken pieces of glass. So we all got these different green colored necklaces, made out of glass that had been broken, melted down, and formed into something new. I suppose the reason that I loved this was because a) it supported a good cause [umm obvi] but b) I really love the metaphor of it all--I mean making something new and beautiful out of something broken and what many consider trash. It's too perfect of a metaphor for the human experience and God and redemption and all of that. And I loved that each piece was unique, but yet still made out of the same material, still with a common thread running through it. Really, Max Lucado or Philip Yancey couldn't have picked a better metaphor for one of their books if I do say so myself. They can use it, but only if they pay me the money that I would have won on America's Funniest Home Videos [oh and if you squint really hard you can see the necklace I'm talking about in the picture above].

The only downer to this week? My camera broke. I mean the screen on it has a big black blob. Fortunately I got ten pictures or so, but it really puts a damper on the upcoming fall season as I greatly enjoy taking pictures of the foliage in Connecticut. I guess I'll have to take up painting again, or something like that.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Hoorah 25

Whelp I'm about to celebrate the big 2-5 on Wednesday. This means I will be a QUARTER CENTURY OLD. This is slightly disturbing, but I'm hoping that with 25 years under my belt that I'm headed in the direction of wisdom-gaining. While I'm a little sad that I can truly say I'm "mid-twenties," let me tell you I certainly have things going in my favor this year:

1. I already won $20 in the Ohio lottery. My uncle and aunt gave me a ticket, and hey guess what, Ohio loves me.
2. I get lower car insurance because my pre-frontal cortex is officially fully functional lowering my impulse control.
3. I can now rent a car for cheaper [see reason above]
4. I can participate in my school's retirement plan officially.

I think this is all, but these are the last age-related benefits that I get until about the age of 55.

Every year my friend Brittany makes us [as in my girlfriends and I] answer questions on our birthday. We usually roll our eyes and answer, but secretly I love this about Brittany--she's a real life savor-er.
One of the questions is: what were your best memories from last year [I can't remember if you have to do the number of how old you're turning but I'm going to do ten because I'm moderately lazy] [oh and these are in no particular order]:
1. Seeing New York City for the first time and seeing the play "Rock of Ages"
2. Seattle Trip #1
3. Rob's visit to Boise
4. John Mayer in Boston
5. Amy's Wedding
6. Lilith Fair
7. Seattle Trip #2
8. Various memories with Tai/Tam and other CT people
9. Making new friends
10. Visits from friends from the West Coast!

Then we are asked what our goals are for the year. These are mine:
1. Apply to grad school
2. Volunteer somewhere
3. See "Wicked" in NYC

It's gonna be a good year.