Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Gossips, Those they Gossip to, And those Affected

There are many things in this world that I do not understand.
Weather, balance (the art of not falling over nothing), Kansas, why spiders are a thing...

But one of the biggest things I don't understand is people. Specifically, gossips.

Why do people feel the need to tell stories, false stories in particular, about other people? People they consider "friends"?

Why do people feel the need to believe those people? Without checking facts, getting the other side of the story, or even thinking it through. Gasp! What is this? Critical thinking? Not believing everything I hear like a mindless zombie?? Whaaat?

Yes, this subject really makes me angry. Yes, I have been the victim of gossip before, which has always gotten straightened out more or less painlessly. But more importantly, I've known good people who have been the victim of false gossipers, those who believe without thinking it through, and had their reputation messed up by it.

On the subject of gossip itself:


Why would you talk about your friends (or just people in general, really) without speaking any sort of truth or love, and not caring what the consequences are for yourself or for the other people? Why would you intentionally lie about people just to "get back at them" or whatever the end goal is? Is that loving your neighbor? Is that treating others as you would be treated? Is that pleasing to God in the least? At all? Ever?

On the subject of listening to gossip:

If you are bent on listening to gossip, please, at least check the facts. If it is a mutual friend you're hearing gossip about, stop and think it through for Pete's sake! Does the gossip really match up to that person's life, morals, and just what you know about that person? Get the other side of the story! As humans, both sides of the story are apt to be skewed to some degree, so get both sides and line them up and think.

So. Yeah.

C'mon, people.

Let us LOVE one another, and spread truth, hope, and love. Set your mind on things above. If you think you've been wronged, you know what, you are not called to deal with it. Where has God ever said, "If someone wrongs you, wrong them even more, or at least just as much, for this is pleasing to Me"? Doesn't sound like the God I know, people. Sounds like the opposite. Sounds like someone who wants to break friendships, ruin lives, and make God really sad.

Think about what you hear, think about what you say and do.

Peace out.

- The Raven

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Stitch Fix!

Not long ago, I heard about this new craze called "Stitch Fix". Essentially, it is for people like me who 1) are bad at putting clothes together, 2) dislike shopping, and 3) like getting random things in the mail.

So, I decided that I would try this wondrous thing. It's only $20, and they send you a box of five clothing items that you can decide to buy, or, if not, send back. The initial $20 goes toward any clothes you decide to buy. And if you keep everything in the box, you get a 25% discount.

After deciding this, filling out my style profile, and creating a Pinterest board to better help my stylist to send me things I'd like, my cheapskate side kicked in. And I decided that no, I do not want to spend $20 on a box of clothes that I may or may not end up liking, fitting into, or being able to afford. What was I thinking?? I needed to cancel the scheduled fix and the crisis would be averted!

Aaaand then my forgetful side kicked in. I forgot to cancel the fix I'd scheduled. And so guess what arrived in the mail today!

Stitch Fix!

First of all, it was super fun to get a box of random mystery clothes that were picked out specifically to match my style profile.

Second of all, I was pleasantly surprised at how well the stylist did picking out things that I liked!

So, here is a list of the various things that were in my box!

Number One:

A cute beaded bracelet. The clasp was a little confusing at first, but I actually do like it pretty well, and it fits all right. Won't be keeping it, because while I do like it, I don't love it, so I can't justify spending $30-something on it.

Number Two:

A pretty dark blue, flowy shirt that is super comfy and fits me like a glove. The little ties get tangled easily, though, which made me momentarily grumpy as I had to untangle a knot in them, but overall I really loved this shirt. A lot.
Price: $50-something

Number Three:

An open, off-white cardigan that is super soft and floppy and cuddle-up-in-on-a-rainy-day-ish. Wasn't a total fan of how it actually fit, though I feel like I would have gotten used to it pretty quickly. Main problem with this one was that it was off-white... any kind of whites and I do not get along. So sadly, this one was out of the running as soon as I saw the color.
Price: $70-something

Number Four:

Dark brown, super soft, pants. I actually really love the color, and the texture of the fabric, buuuut.... it doesn't fit very well. Actually, it might just be because they're straight-leg jeans, which I'm not a huge fan of. Sadface.
In the second pic you can see a pretty little embroidery thingy on the back pocket which was cool.
Price: $90-something

Number Five:

Okay, so.... this one is my favorite, hands down, though the blue shirt does come in close. A knit, funnel-neck sweater.
Is super comfy, has a front pocket, and fits really well. The sleeves are just a smidge short (which I actually think is just a me-preference thing because I like long sleeves to practically cover my hand), but is so nice!
Price: $60-something

Final verdit?
I approve of Stitch Fix. The price of the various items are kinda high (for me... being a cheapskate... ahem...) but the stylist got my style pretty straight on, and things actually fit.
Shall I keep anything?
I'm still undecided. But if I do, it will either be the blue shirt or the funnel-neck sweater. If I had endless money, I would buy both in a heartbeat. But alas, I do not, so I have a difficult decision before me. =P

If you decide you want to try this out too, you can use this link to sign up!
Click here!
^^ if you use that link, I will get monies toward my next Stitch Fix if you actually decide to schedule a box, soooo.... Use that link if you decide to do it!

Peace out!

- Raven

Friday, July 31, 2015

Eating Well on a Budget

As a college student with limited monies, it can be hard to figure out how to balance food-budget and health. For a while, I actually just gave up and opted for the cheap, convenient, not terribly nourishing foods. Unfortunately, that didn't go over well with my body, and I ended up feeling tired 90% of the time, randomly feeling sick for no reason, and having bouts of dizziness. 

Not good, no?

So, I started putting a little more thought into what I was buying, and found out that really, buying certain healthy foods actually doesn't cost a whole lot more than buying cheap-y food from Wal-mart (ramen noodles, mac'n'cheese, frozen pizza) or going to fast food restaurants and buying off the value menu. Because admit it, sure, you can buy five things of ramen noodles for a dollar, but who is going to actually willingly eat ramen for every single meal? It's more likely you'll eat them throughout the week, but supplement it with more "tasty" foods from fast food restaurants, which adds up pretty quick.

  • Bread - loaf of wheat bread is ~$3 (lasts about a week and a half)
  • Eggs - a dozen of the free range eggs are almost $4 right now, thanks to the egg shortage, but usually are between $2 - $3 (lasts about a week and a half)
  • Beef - depends on what you get, but you can get those four-packs of little steaks at Wal-mart for $4 - $5 (lasts four days)
  • Milk - a gallon is about $4 (lasts a couple weeks)
  • Yogurt - the real good Greek yogurt is ~$4 (lasts about a week)
  • V8 - ~$3 (lasts about five days)
  • Rice - good brown rice is ~$2 (lasts about a week and a half)
  • EmergenC - if you buy it at Sams Club, you can get a three-pack for ~$15, rather than $8 for one box at Wal-mart (one box lasts about a month)
  • Frozen vegetables - ~$2 if you get one of the yummy stir-fry mixes (lasts about two weeks)
  • Frozen fruit - ~$3 (lasts about a week)
  • Frozen hashbrowns - ~$3 (lasts about a week and a half)
  • Applesauce - ~$3 if you get the good stuff without corn syrup (lasts a little over a week)
  • Lunch meat - the good, natural, no nitrate stuff is ~$4 (lasts about four days)
  • Granola bars - the good ones that have protein and fiber are ~$3-4

If I bought everything on this list (including the 3-month supply of EmergenC), it would cost about $64.  Needless to say, I rarely buy everything on this list for my week's supply of food. Typically, I only spend $15-$20 a week on food. The best thing is that these things lend themselves to diversity, so there's little danger of getting completely tired of something and not wanting to eat it ever again. Which is the problem I ran into with eating ramen noodles, mac'n'cheese, and dollar menu items too much.

Here's a quick overview of what I use these things for:

  • Bread - Used for sandwiches (obviously), egg-in-the-windows, toast, or dipping in yogurt
  • Eggs - Eaten on their own, as sandwiches, or mixed into fried rice
  • Beef - Cut up and frozen in individual bags with soy sauce. Then when you're ready to eat it, you can just thaw a single bag and cook it up on its own, or mixed into rice or veggies. * I make sure to freeze the pieces flat so they don't freeze together in a ball and make it ten times harder to cook.
  • Yogurt - Mix fruits into it, or use for smoothies, or just eat on its own.
  • V8 - I know, V8 is disgusting, *but*, the fruit fusion V8s actually taste good, and you get a good dose of fruits and veggies. If you have high blood pressure problems, this can be a bad choice because it has high sodium, but since I have low blood pressure, it's actually a good thing!
  • Rice - Most versatile thing ever! Mix in veggies, meat, or brown sugar and cinnamon, or eat it on its own... If you don't have time to make it in a rice cooker, the Minute Brown Rice is good too.
  • EmergenC - Drunk on its own, or, my favorite, mixed into yogurt. It gives the yogurt a yummy whipped texture because of the carbonation stuff, and the orange EmergenC makes it taste like orange cream. So. Good.
  • Frozen vegetables - Stir-fry, fried rice, etc...
  • Frozen fruit - Thawed and eaten on its own, or mixed into smoothies or yogurt.
  • Frozen hashbrowns - Delicious cooked up with an egg over it.

And that's that!
Make good food choices!

- The Raven

Monday, June 29, 2015

A Thank You to OYAN

So, I just finished doing a brief look over of my Facebook page, from when I first got it in the beginning of 2009, to now.

Six years.

Not only was I appalled at the frequency, randomness, and overall boring subject matter that made up my posts then, it also highlighted my major points of growth. From awkward photographs of me as a clumsy teenager, trying to hide behind people and objects to avoid notice, to over-exuberance in chattering at *everyone* on my news feed for fear of being that friend who is forgotten by everyone, there were two major consistencies: family, and the presence of the OYAN community (One Year Adventure Novel).

The latter got me thinking, because much as it has changed me, I never really fleshed out a well thought thank you to those involved.

I cannot imagine what I or my life would be like if my mom hadn't brought home a OYAN promo dvd and had me watch it and decide if I wanted to do it. I don't want to imagine what things would be like now if I had decided not to do it.

First, there are so many fandoms, interests, and skills that I likely would never have either learned of, or gotten into. My Little Pony customization, which led to manga and anime, which led to Japanese culture interest, which led to my now speaking Japanese. Anime and manga also later began to influence my artwork and get me excited about using new drawing styles.

Doctor Who, Sherlock, Supernatural.... all fandoms that I learned of via the OYAN community. The wonders of cosplay, which taught me that no, I was never too old to dress up in costumes, which led to the beautiful discovery of steampunk!

Also, obviously *writing*. Learning how to actually finish stories coherently, having a community to show my work to, having my work critiqued, encouraged, my characters brought to life. Being able to read other peoples' works and hear their stories and help them in return. These not only spurred me on to write and finish more stories, but also helped me to develop my own style and characters. Learning how to critique the works of other people not only helped me to address issues in my stories, but also gave me confidence, as I went from terrified to offer advice about another person's work, to learning that it was all right to give constructive criticism. 

Secondly, it was a safe place for me. I learned it was okay to be weird, that my friends wouldn't abandon me if I wasn't perfect and mature and quiet all the time. I didn't have to think, and rethink, and think some more about anything I said or did, to make sure there was absolutely no way it would reflect negatively in any way whatsoever. I learned that it was okay to have quirks. And moreover, I learned that I wasn't the only one like me. I know it's a little silly for me to have thought that there was no one else who thought or felt at all like me... And I'm not sure I really realized how stifled and abnormal I felt until I found myself surrounded by people who were like me.

At the first couple Summer Workshops, I found myself surrounded by people who were saying and doing the things I wanted to be doing, while I stood petrified against the wall, still not at all certain I could trust these people not to run away the moment they found out I didn't want to be standing all prim and proper and mature-like. And when I did get out of my shell, they didn't run away. It was normal, I was normal, and they were still my friends.

That realization was probably the most important. No, I didn't turn into an extrovert, I'm still an introvert and still know how to put on the mature face when it comes to people I don't know well enough, but what was important was that I now had friends I could be myself around.

Thirdly, most, most, most importantly, and probably blatantly obvious: the people I met. At *least* half of those in my friend group now are either direct OYANers, or people I met as a direct result. The number would likely go up even more as I counted the people I'd met as a result of becoming more comfortable with being myself.

Don't get me wrong now, it isn't that I'd never had any friends before OYAN, I did. But things had a habit of happening so that those friends moved away, or got busy, or just plain old lost touched, so I both had and lost a lot of friends. Even within OYAN I have made and lost friends. But I've kept so many more.

So yes.  Thank you, OYAN, for being my sounding board, safe place, reality check, and grounding area. Because of you, I have written twelve books, lots of short stories, done well in writing competitions. Because of you, I am not ashamed of the fact I have lightsabers, laser guns, spy glasses, steampunk goggles, and My Little Ponies-- all of which I painted and customized-- as a display on my desk. I'm not ashamed to go around cosplaying in public, and I have more fandoms to fan-girl over than I know what to do with.

Best of all, I have several of my closest friends here, who I can both talk with regularly via internet, *and* hang out with in person.

Thank you all for being awesome. Don't stop being awesome.

- The Raven

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Puppy and College and Work, OH MY

Here goes a new semester! I ended up dropping a class to keep my life from being too crazy this semester, so I just have six classes! And they're all super fun looking ones. Yay!

Abnormal Psychology
Fundamentals of Counseling
Human Genetics
Cognitive Neuropsychology
Marimba Ensemble (we have our big performance this semester, too!)
Karate II

Karate and Marimba are both classes I'm taking purely for enjoyment and hour credits. I also get a scholarship for Marimba, which is definitely nice.

Cognitive Neuropsychology will be the hardest, I'm guessing. It's known for being a hard class, partly because the professor is super smart and students have trouble understanding everything that's taught in class. So fingers are crossed for that class!

Human Genetics I'm taking for my Science credit. Figure it'll be an interesting addition to the Neuropsychology class.

I'm probably most excited for the Abnormal Psych class-- I already have my textbook and have looked through it and it looks like it'll be majorly interesting. I've heard from a lot of students that Fundamentals of Counseling is pretty awesome, so I also have a lot of excitement for that one too. I've also had both of those professors before, and they're both really cool.

So yay schoolz!

I'm also still teaching piano and working at the library, both of which I'm still enjoying. I just had a student return, so I officially have eight students again! Whoop whoop!

A final thing that will be making things interesting is that I recently got a puppy...

Yeah, I know, genius move, right?

My dog, Madison, had to be put down about a month ago, which was really depressing. She was about thirteen-years-old, so she lived a good long life. We did 4-H Obedience, Agility, and Showmanship together, and got several Grand and Reserve Champion scores. She was pretty much the perfect dog, I'm pretty sure.

But anyhow, yeah.

My mom's dog needed company, because he's been around other dogs all his life and he's a hyper Shepherd dog that needs to spend energy. So we needed another dog. And I wanted a puppy, because I like to be the one to raise my dogs.

So, I found an ad on Craigslist advertising Rottweiler Labrador mixes, and picked one up, aaand found out she was part Pitbull too. I'm not one of those people who is negative feeling about Pitties, but I do know that raising a Pit mix is going to be a lot more work. Not sure what I've got myself into here, but she's the cuddliest puppy I've ever met, so I'm up for the challenge.

If you want to hear more about her, I started a blog for our adventures here: Pit Adventures

And this is getting long, so I'll leave it at that! Update complete!


Monday, January 5, 2015

Goals and Such

So, I recently returned from a writers' workshop that I've been attending since 2010. It's put on by One Year Adventure Novel (lovingly known as OYAN) and consists of the Summer Workshop and the Winter Workshop (which has actually only been around three years). It's kinda awesome how much OYAN has grown-- the first workshop (Summer Workshop) in 2010 lasted only a day and consisted of a very small number of students. Like, twenty or less.

I haven't attended the last two Summer Workshops, but they're now HUGE. I think the last one I attended had more than eighty students, and it lasts for five days now. The year before last they introduced the Winter Workshops, for the older (mostly graduated) students, which are smaller, and wonderful.

Every year, I leave super inspired and ready to work on more story stuffs. This year they had a focus on making goals as well, so I left inspired as well as with goals in mind and a head-start actually meeting them. 

Aaaand, I'm going to post them on here.

Writing Goals for 2015:

Finish the rough draft of the current novel I'm working on (Rising as We Fall)
Finish editing my murder mystery
Get a short story published
Enter at least one story contest

Poof and voila! Writing goals! Yay!

I shall hopefully update my progress on these regularly (hopefully)!

- Raven