School Didn’t Prepare Me For This… Or Did It?

You know how school is supposed to prepare you for life? Well, I’ve realized it gives you some very valuable skills, but it also causes some problems. Summer break is great, but it doesn’t really help your mindset. And all of those projects and ever changing classes? Fabulous, right?

School is like a coloring book. All the wonderful lines.

So what happens when you’ve graduated and you have to step into the real world where you don’t get three months of vacation, life doesn’t hand you projects, and you’re expected to hold a job for at least a few years? You possibly react like me and think, “Well shit. I’m not so sure about that.”

Real life expects you to create your own masterpieces. Find a brush and go!

There are a great many people who like routine and like the security of having the same job for years, but that thought scares me. The thought of doing the same thing day in and day out sounds awful. For a while I fought this idea, and sometimes I still do, but I figured something out.

While there are plenty of people who like the routine of doing the same thing every day, there are also people like me who can’t do that. They need change. And fortunately there are jobs out there that involve change and projects. If you can’t stand doing the same thing over and over again you just have to look for a project based position, or try working freelance. That’s definitely project based.

I also realized that I can work on my own projects to keep things changing. For example, if you’ve been reading any of my previous posts on Wonder Thinker, you’ll see that I don’t write about one specific topic or in one particular way. I mix it up. This keeps me interested. I’ve also been writing a young adult fiction novel. This is yet another way to add variety to my every day. It takes a little extra effort, but I feel more accomplished. I don’t feel stuck. It makes life a little less scary.

 

Sometimes you just have to make life up your own way, and say so what if it isn’t perfect! It’s mine!

So if I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned that school assigns you a format, but in the real world you have to create your own. It can be hard work, but you’ll be happier when you create a format that fits you best. And keep in mind, that it can always change, and should always change. Life shouldn’t be stagnant, so keep on your toes and get to doing. Make a format that works for you right now, and just go with it. You can always change it later.

NMM: It’s A Monday…

This past week has been a bit stressful, so this Notable Media Monday let’s kick it off right with a little comedy.  Olan Rogers is a guy who likes to tell stories and do hilarious dares with his roommate.  When a friend first introduced him to me (via YouTube) we watched several of his videos, and I cried from laughing so hard.  His humor is probably not for everyone.  I’ve shown others with various reactions, but regardless people seem to find him amusing.  So without further ado, I bring you: Ghost in the Stalls

 

 

Foodie Friday: Patriotic Grilled Pizzas

You know what’s interesting?  If you decide to host a 4th of July party on July 6th, people get all kinds of confused.  Luckily it wasn’t my first rodeo so I contacted some of my friends to see if they were coming.  A common response I got was, “That didn’t happen yet?”  Now I know we were taught to read directions thoroughly.  I was in that class with them.  Silly people.  Just gotta love them though.

So anyway, the 6th of July came and we had ourselves a little backyard barbecue, but not the kind you’d expect.  There weren’t any burgers or hot dogs.  Instead we grilled mini pizzas.

Mini Grilled Pizzas

My mom was actually the one that introduced me to this concept years ago.  We used to make normal sized versions of grilled pizzas and they were delicious.  The trick is to keep an eye on them because they cook fast.  For the party I just bought a big frozen bag of bread rolls, but you can use whatever dough you want.  (Except apparently gluten free.  It doesn’t seem to work as well.)

First, roll out your dough as best as you can.  The bread rolls were a bit difficult but if you stretch them a bit right before putting them on the grill that seems to work.  DO NOT mash the dough into the grill even just a little bit.  You’ll never get it off in one piece.

Without sauce or toppings, put the dough on the grill.  It’ll take only a few minutes to cook, so be ready.  Also, have your toppings handy because you’ll need to put them on quickly.  Once the crust looks at least half way cooked if not more (the side you’re grilling will start to golden) flip the crust with a spatula or tongs.  Then add your sauce, cheese, toppings, or whatever combo you’d like.  Close the grill.

Remember, this only takes a couple of minutes.  Then when the cheese is melted and there’s a slight golden color to the other side of the crust, remove the pie.  I tend to have a plate ready and then just drag the pizza off the grill and onto the plate.  Less spilling that way.

Now you have a grilled pizza!  Let it cool just a bit before you eat, but be prepared to enjoy deliciousness in your mouth.

Can You Open A Pickle Jar?

Something I’ve always had a problem with is my image. I’m not talking about my weight, my clothes, or my personality, though those do occasionally occupy my time. I’ve always had trouble with appearing weak. I don’t think I have ever actually made anyone think of me as weak, but that’s exactly what I mean. I’m not one of those women who wants to be less than a strong and respectable person. I hold doors for both men and women, I will carry my own things, and by golly I will try everything I can to get that pickle jar open before I ask for help. Often I’m the person that people will come to with pickle jar woes. And what’s wrong with that?

Nothing.

Unfortunately a good portion of the world disagrees. In the US we still see it in the media and especially in fashion. Models and stars have traditionally been thin and generally not overly muscular. Fortunately this seems to be changing. More and more it’s becoming more respectable for women to be strong. Finally! If we can just keep it going! How do we find the inspiration for it though? In a world of Victoria’s Secret and Abercrombie & Fitch (Though A&F is by far the worse company simply because of it’s CEO. What an asshole, am I right?) it’s hard to not compare ourselves to the thin and less intimidating image of a woman.

I’ve had friends who look through catalogs like those for inspiration when dieting or working out, but what if those don’t work for all of us? I personally hate looking through those types of catalogs. They just seem bland and typical. Don’t get me wrong, VS makes so very cute undergarms, but as far as body image inspiration I just don’t feel it. However, I’ve noticed recently that one catalog I look forward to getting in the mail is the one from Athleta.

Athleta is, as it sounds, an athletic clothing company. It’s motto is “Power to the She”, sorry dudes, and it’s chalk full of strong and athletic, but thin, women. They’re normal looking women, but still very beautiful. They’ve got abs, strong shoulders, and arms that would put up a good fight. Some people would still look at these women and be turned off, but I feel inspired by them. These women are healthy, active, and hot. What’s not to look up to? The clothes are cute too!

I would love to see more catalogs and magazines like this one. Empowering women to be strong, and so what if guys find you a bit intimidating sometimes. It’s good to throw people off every now and again. It puts hair on their chests. There’s nothing wrong with being strong and confident. I’d rather be that than weak and passive. I could only be proud to be one of those women, and I’ll give you one guess which one. So ladies, sign up for that Athleta catalog, and get inspired! I have faith that you can open that pickle jar some day.

NMM: Chemerical

Do you know how toxic our lives are? Okay, increase that ten fold. My mom has been dealing with severe migraines and food allergies for more than five years now, and she’s finally finding the source of the problems, but along the way we’ve learned all kinds of nasty truths about the chemicals and toxins in our everyday things. Many people roll their eyes and say, “but they haven’t found any proof that this stuff actually causes significant harm.” Actually, they have. More recent studies are showing long term effects. Think about it. Who tells you that these products aren’t harmful? The people selling these products. Of course they’re going to tell you that. But check it out!

Chemerical Homepage

This documentary actually showed me a lot of everyday products that have some pretty nasty stuff in them, and encouraged me to be more aware. Did you know that some baking powders have aluminum in them? Why? What’s the purpose? Did you know that aluminum is a neurotoxin?

If you’re still a little unsure of how bad that is, let me break it down for you.  (Definitions via http://www.merriam-webster.com)

Neurotoxin:

a poisonous complex especially of protein that acts on the nervous system.

Nervous System:

the bodily system that in vertebrates is made up of the brain and spinal cord, nerves, ganglia, and parts of the receptor organs and that receives and interprets stimuli and transmits impulses to the effector organs.

In other words, aluminum poisons our brains causing memory loss, difficulty interpreting stimuli, and all around majorly affecting the control we have over our bodies and lives.

You may be thinking, “okay well, I’ll buy aluminum free baking powder”, or, “but I don’t bake”.

Read the back of your deodorant. Yep. It’s entering your pores and you didn’t even know it. Oh and B.T.Dubs… You have an artery running through your armpit making it easy access. Super!

Now, I’m not suggesting that you have to take extreme measures and eliminate absolutely all chemicals in your life. That’s impossible in this day and age, but check out the other options. There are more and more being created as people learn about the side affects of this toxic lifestyle we’ve created. Here’s a list of things to check out:

If you’re still skeptical then here’s what I have to say to you. Don’t be a mindless skeptical zombie just because big companies tell you too. If you don’t believe me, look into it for yourself. I’ve even made it somewhat easy to start. It would certainly suck if you waited to get healthy and then developed a major life altering disease. Then all I’d have to say is bummer dude. 

 

Biblio:

Article about aluminum: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3056430/

The top 9 chemical free deodorants: http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/best-natural-deodorants-47062903#slide-1

Foodie Friday: Fried-Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

Happy Friday again!  And if you were in the US I hope you had a happy 4th!  Mine was busy, but I did get to see fireworks.  The best part is my 4th of July celebrations aren’t over yet!  Next Friday you’ll get to see the grilled pizzas we’ll be having at my 4th party.  To celebrate on the 3rd though, I made Fried-Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms.  Gotta love farmers markets!  The original recipe is here: Food Network

But I came up with a few adjustments.

Pre-Fried

Ingredients

2/3 cup all-purpose flour (I used all purpose gluten free flour)

1/2 cup sparkling water

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning

1/3 cup (2 ounces) goat cheese or goat cheese crumbs

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) cream cheese, at room temperature (I used Tofutti non dairy cream cheese.)

2 teaspoons milk or non dairy milk

2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves

1 green onion, finely chopped

Freshly ground black pepper

2 strips of bacon, minced

1 tablespoon of jalapeno, minced

8-10 zucchini blossoms

Vegetable oil, for frying
Directions
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, water and salt until smooth. Set aside.

In another small bowl combine the goat cheese, cream cheese, milk, basil, green onion, jalapeno, and bacon. Mix until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Rinse blossoms and gently remove pollen, then pat dry. Spoon 2 -2 1/2 teaspoons filling into each blossom. Close the blossoms and gently twist the petals to seal.  (This is so much trickier than it sounds.)

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour enough oil to fill the pan about a third of the way. Heat over medium heat.  Dip the stuffed zucchini blossoms in the batter and allow any excess batter to drip off. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Allow the cooked blossoms to drain on paper towels.
Fried Zucchini Blossoms

 

Voila!  Deliciousness!!!

 

Interviewee’s Rebuttal

On Monday I wrote a NMM (Notable Media Monday) and introduced you all to a presentation about recent graduates and their often lack of interviewing skills. If you didn’t see it, you really should. It’s fantastic!

 

However, I do want to point out that the interviewer is not always perfect. I’ve had plenty of bad interviews where I know it wasn’t my fault. So I decided to create a rebuttal. A little point of view from the other side of the table as it were. Hopefully it helps clear some things up for those who have to conduct interviews.

Need to Hire? Eleven Reasons I’ll Have To Reconsider Working For You After The Interview

 

I want to hear about your bad interviews now.  Were there things that either you or the interviewer could have done better?  What did you take away from that interview?  Comment below.

Notable Media Monday: Grads and Interviews

Happy Monday!  Today is a fairly exciting day for me.  I have a big job interview!  I’m excited!

Actually, it’s a big day for not only myself, but also a few friends.  I have several friends going on interviews today as well.  Good vibes for us all!

Now, a lot of people get really nervous about interviews, but I’m not a part of that crowd.  I’m actually really good at interviews.  (It may have something to do with all my years of auditioning for plays and the like.)  However, I know there are plenty of people who haven’t mastered those skills yet.  Most people haven’t, so you’re not alone.

Anywho, one of my friends (who is interviewing today) sent me a slide that some dude made.  (The dudes name is Mark O’Toole and he works PR and Content for HB Agency.)  The slide is directed at recent grads applying for jobs and I must say is pretty hilarious.  It’s a bit sarcastic, but 100% accurate.  It’s definitely worth checking out whether you’re a recent grad or just someone who wants to know what some of the most basic interviewing skills are.

Congratulations Graduate! Eleven Reasons Why I Will Never Hire You

For those of you who are really intimidated by even just the thought of interviews, don’t worry.  So are most of the people around you.  Interviews are hard!  It’s like a first date.  The worst!  But the key is practice.  The skills you need for an interview, as well as a first date, are ones that you can learn.  And even if you don’t feel confident, fake it till you make it!  Everyone knows interviews are nerve wracking, including the person giving the interviews, so don’t focus on that thought.  Instead focus on the stuff listed in that slide, and you’ll do fine.

Just breathe.  You got this!

Foodie Friday: Kickin’ Red Sangria

If you’re having a party or just enjoying the summer sun, the perfect drink is a cold glass of red sangria.  Now, I’m a bit picky about my sangrias.  I’ve had some that are basically just liquid candy in a glass, and those aren’t for me.  I like something sweet and fruity but also with a bit of a kick to it.  That’s where the brandy comes in.  This recipe makes a beautifully balanced and flavorful sangria that nearly anyone will love.

So the next time you’re having friends over mix up a pitcher of this and I guarantee it will be a good time!

Sangria

 Kickin’ Red Sangria

Ingredients:

1 bottle of sweet or fruity red wine (Barefoot Sweet Red works well and doesn’t break the bank)

3-4 shots of Brandy

½ of a lime

½ C. of chopped fruit (oranges, apples, mangoes, strawberries, etc. Make sure the fruit is ripe or the flavors won’t blend right.)

Mix wine, brandy, and lime juice in a pitcher. Add chopped fruit. If you’re making the Sangria the day before, let it sit covered in the fridge. If you’re making it the day of, let it sit out for about an hour so the flavors blend, and then refrigerate.

Warning: I like strong drinks, so if it’s too much Brandy, don’t hesitate to use less.

Recycle and Repurpose Your Life

 Nowadays people seem to be getting very into recycling and repurposing things. Furniture, artwork, clothing, and accessories. However, there seems to be one major thing that not everyone is considering. We’re in the middle of a major shift when it comes to job security. Particularly those who are fresh out of college and want to do something awesome but still make decent money. More and more when I see job listings I see phrases like, “3-5 years similar experience” for simple jobs that definitely don’t require that much expertise. I don’t think it takes 3-5 years experience to figure out how to be an administrative assistant. Most college students have learned all of the skills you’re asking for. Just saying.

It’s a very stressful struggle to deal with.

crying_kid

There’s the pressure from the parents and older generations to “get a job” but it’s not as simple as that. I personally have applied to over ten specific types of jobs in the past month, that I’d definitely qualified for, and most have responded that they’ve filled the position with someone else. I could apply to so many other job listings, but I’d like a job that doesn’t make me miserable. Call me a dreamer. So yeah, it’s hard to find that sweet and steady income. What strikes me as odd though, is that we’ve been taught to approach the professional world in the same way as previous generations despite the fact that there’s a change in the air.

What we should really be doing is finding ways to recycle old tactics and ideas, and repurpose them to best suit not only us, but also the times. Most things have been done, so how do you create something new? Take old ideas and make them new. Combine them, adjust them, whatever you can to make an old dog learn new tricks. Revamp the shit out of those old tactics. An example: what if you like music but are afraid that you won’t be able to make an adequate amount of money pursuing it? So instead you choose communications. Consider this for a moment: What if you combine the two? Find a way to communicate music. The possibilities are endless.

Photo by marie1706 (click image to go to her page)

Photo by marie1706 (click image to go to her page)

Yes, this concept of recycling and repurposing takes a significant amount of effort. Which is exactly why it’s worth it. Think of all of the people who will say, “that’s too much work,” and just give up. So if you stick with it you have a damn good chance! Find away to take something that you love to do, and combine it with something a bit more financially successful. Make a plan.  Sure you might not get it right at first, but eventually you’ll figure it out. Doesn’t it sound better than settling for some job that pays well, but sucks your soul? I think so.