Wednesday, September 18, 2013

~30 Day Blog Challenge - Day 29 - Mid-week reflections ~

Wow everybody,  I can't believe I'm almost done with the blog challenge! Exciiiiiiiiting! I know I missed a few days here and there, but life does get crazy sometimes.

Today was pretty low key - I had my classes, and then went to the Involvement Fair that my school puts on to promote my group, The Interfaith Movement. I want people on campus to know that there's a safe space for them to express their religious/spiritual beliefs or lack thereof and come so we can all learn from each other!

I got sunburned only on the right side of my body, so that was super fun -_- yeah, not much else planned for the day, just relaxing, doing some reading for class, and watching some movies tonight I think! After this blog challenge is over, I'm going to try to get a regular schedule going for blog posts and hopefully have some pretty cool stuff! ;) Stay tuned :D

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

~30 Day Blog Challenge - Day 26 - How To Make a Toilet Paper Roll Wreath!! ~

Hey all! I know I've been MIA for a few days, but I wanted to make it up to you by giving a tutorial on how to make a lovely wreath for any occasion out of - you guessed it - leftover toilet paper and paper towel rolls!  This wreath can be made for any holiday or occasion. Mine is a fall/Mabon wreath since that's the season where I live! It's fun, it's easy, and most importantly, it's eco-friendly. So, let's get started! 

You Will need: 
1. Scissors
2. A glue gun
3. Toilet paper rolls and/or paper towel rolls
4. A bowl, plate or other round object to shape your wreath
5. Your decorations

1. Fold the rolls in half so they are flattened and begin cutting them into even pieces.

2. Lay them out around your wreath in whatever shape you like - I made sort of a sun-burst type of shape, but you can mix it up! Glue the pieces together one by one.

3. When you are done gluing, take out the bowl and you should have a round (ish) shape that is held pretty solidly together!

4. If you have leftover roll pieces, you can take them and make a second layer - some people go all the way around again, but that looked too messy for me so I decided to make little "leaves".

5. Lay out your decorations where you want them and glue them down. Wait for it to dry and then hang the wreath wherever you like! Yay! Now you have your very own wreath :D You could also possibly not glue the decorations down and just reuse the wreath with different decorations if you really wanted to be eco friendly. :)


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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

~30 Day Blog Challege - Day 22 - Never Forget? ~

Oh gosh, hello everybody. I'm still here, chugging along. School kind of sucks up all of my time, plus homework and boyfriend and all on top of that I have a very weird tension above my left eye which throbs when I bend down or sit up. I don't have a headache and it's been going on for about a week. Any idea of what it could be? If you know, PLEASE let me know how I can fix it!

Today I wanted to talk quickly on a  subject that takes a while to talk about. Sounds difficult, but I'll do my best to sum up: 9/11 and "Orientalism".

What is Orientalism? 

Orientalism is the lens in which Americans view the Middle East due to media, movies, art, and other things that claim to "represent" the "Orient". We have had a fairly short history in the ME compared to other countries such as Britain or France, whom had direct contact with people in different countries like Tunisia and Algeria, while we came in during the 60's and 70's when there was oil to be found. Another way that our views are skewed of the Middle East is because Israel is our strongest ally and the American media almost always shows the way Israel wants things to be shown. In other words, our media is colored by politics. So what does this have to do with 9/11? 

The way we have come to view the Middle East is not only that all Muslims are violent (if, for example, we see an image of a protest on the news and it looks awful and someone is burning the American flag and people are looting and pillaging, etc), but also that they are disposable (look at any hollywood movie with an Arab as the bad guy. Arnold Swarzenegger just kills them right off, with no second thought!). This perception colors our view of what Islam is, who Muslims are, and what life in the Middle East is actually like and it can lead to terrible things like racism, stereotyping, and violence against Muslims. 

So why should I care?

Why should you - did you just even ask that?! Because learning about how a culture truly is and not because we have a superficial, political, or economic interest in it is IMPORTANT. Let me repeat: IT. IS. IMPORTANT.

One of the points that has stuck with me so far out of my Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East class is that when we have knowledge about a group of people, we have to choose how to portray them. We have the power to choose whether or not we can portray them as good or bad, smart or stupid, and so on. We should learn about our differences and similarities so we can talk about them and learn about each other just because we care. Because learning about other people besides ourselves is so, so important. 

What does 9/11 have to do with this? 

It has a lot to do with this. After 9/11, if our perception of Muslims was bad before, it became even worse after those attacks and I personally believe that that attitude still lingers today in society. If children growing up didn't learn about the 9/11 attacks in their history classes then maybe the perception of Muslims would be better because we all know that schools don't always tell children the truth (*cough* Native American genocide *cough*).

9/11 happened over 12 years ago. If you lost someone in the attacks, I am truly sorry. But please remember that there were Muslim people who died in the towers as well. These people had Muslim families and Muslim relatives. We are all affected the same

Also remember that for some people around the world, 9/11 happens every day. Terror like this, inflicted, purposeful terror, is a daily occurence. EVERY. DAY. Think about that. Would we even be able to deal with horror like that every day? We have to stop looking at the world through a purely American or Western lens and realize that our attitude about what terror is is inaccurate and harmful to many people, including ourselves, because it shapes the way we do politics and business overseas. 

And now, I am going to go and get ready for bed since I have an 8am tomorrow, but I will leave you with this, a clip from "What Would You Do":

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Monday, September 9, 2013

~30 Day Blog Challenge - Day 20 - Future Talk! ~

Hello everybody! I am totally not quitting on this blog challenge, although it is getting a little more difficult with the semester going full steam ahead. I'm taking a quick break from my reading to write this, and then I have to go back and cry in my chair as I sob over just how much information I actually have to take in.

This semester has started off pretty well, although I have little anxieties in the back of my head because my boyfriend is graduating this spring. Yay Tony!! *throws confetti* However, this has brought a whole lot of "future thoughts" into my head about him (where's he going to live? Is he going to be able to get a job? etc) to me (what should I be looking for in a job? Where am I going to live? Will we be able to afford an apartment together?)

I know I shouldn't worry about a lot of this stuff; that it just sort of works itself out with time. I am not the type of person that can do that! Worrying is part of who I am and it's definitely in my nature to freak out over a lot of things. I'm trying to learn to take things in stride, but it is very scary and I know I can't let it consume me.

Worries aside, Mabon is coming up, which is like the "Pagan Thanksgiving". It's a time to appreciate the harvest and the start of fall and to start preparing for the winter ahead. I have a cool craft planned, so stay tuned for that!! 

Now, I need to go finish my Anthropology of Religion reading! 

Talk soon,
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Saturday, September 7, 2013

~ 30 Day Blog Challenge - Day 18 - Why The Need To Label? ~

Specifically, label ourselves with brand-name clothes.

In the Western world, we seem to have an obsession with brand names and wearing the labels of companies all over our bodies: Nike, PINK by Victoria's secret, Puma, Abercrombie & Fitch, and so on and so forth. You get the idea.

I never thought about this idea, until I thought about it. I went to a presentation on Nike by a man named Jim Keady who used to coach soccer at a Catholic university. The university eventually wanted to renew the school's contract with Nike, but Keady had been doing some research and had found out that the Nike workers in Indonesia were (excuse my french) being treated like shit. He went on a trip to Indonesia to learn about the deplorable conditions and when he came back, opposed the school's contract with Nike and left to start presenting a program called "Behind the Swoosh". 

I won't go into much detail about the conditions since that's a topic unto itself, but let's just say that Nike is more like this:

I think this leads into a bigger question that should be asked: why do we feel the need to adorn ourselves with labels and logos almost constantly? What is it about a brand name that makes us feel cool or validated?

It can be hard to find clothes without some sort of label on them, especially sports clothes, but it can be done. Instead of supporting large corporations that do not have financial and ethical transparency, try to find clothes from more independent retailers or even better, fair-trade, organic, or vegan clothing (often all three of these go hand-in-hand!).

Many people would say "But Karen, fair-trade clothing is so much more expensive!" 

Um. Well, yes, yes it is. But would you like to know why? Because the people who get paid are actually getting paid a fair wage. Meaning, they can actually live on the money and even put some away. So when we buy cheaper clothes, shoes, handbags, etc, the price of the product isn't the actual value of it. When we underpay for an item, we also underpay the person who made it.

Now, I'm not going to sit up here on a pedestal and say that I'm perfect. I can't afford fair-trade clothes all the time, and I buy from Old Navy, Kohl's, etc. I even wore a pair of Nike sneakers to the Jim Keady event at my school. Needless to say, I wasn't very proud of it, but instead of throwing the shoes away I kept them are are using them until they absolutely fall apart.

Another good option for buying clothes would be to go to a thrift store! That way, old clothes are being recycled and oftentimes you are supporting a small business.

So why label ourselves? We can think outside the box, we can express ourselves in different ways. We don't need a company to do that for us. 

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Friday, September 6, 2013

30 Day Blog Challenge - Day 17 - Photo Friday: Dorm Room Details! ~

I wanted to do Photo Friday last week, but I didn't bring my camera! So today I'll be showing you a bit of my dorm room and the suite that I'm sharing with two other girls. I figured I'd focus on the details of the suite instead of whole rooms! This is the lazy way of doing a blog post ;)

Here we go! First off:

My roommates and I went to Target and Ikea, and we were looking for cute throw pillows. We found these right as we were about to leave, and they're from the Feed charity, which provides food to Americans who need it. We liked the quote and loved that we were supporting something that's so needed :)

 Our curtains! They're sort of a blue flower splash thing. We had to get two panels, and I got so annoyed when I realized that they don't make the designs mirror images of each other! 

 My roommate Erika's poster of grand central station, that's hanging in the entryway of our suite. Please excuse the flash in the middle!

Bowl detailing in our tiny kitchenette (more like a small fridge, microwave, and a little bit of counter space).

 The french press I brought! I figured I would be all fancy and cute and make my coffee the hard way every morning, but Erika brought a Keurig so that idea went pretty much out the window.

 We have our corkboard where we write post-its and my roommate Maureen made a peace sign out of thumbtacks! I don't think we're ever going to pin things to the board because we don't want to ruin the design! :P

 Bathroom details - our shower curtain is a skyline! Which skyline, I'm not sure. But it's super cool!

Yummy-smelling soap! It's all fancy and foaming and stuff. 

Now, the details of my room! I actually found this wall hanging when I came back for summer vacation and cleaned out the old hamper that was in my room. This had never been opened, so I took it! Since I'm part Scottish and I love history, I figure it's appropriate.

My faaaaavorite perfume. My friend Katie had this perfume when I was younger and I loved it, so I asked for it one Christmas and I got it. Even though perfume is super expensive, I've had this for over five years now so I like to think it was a good investment on my mom's part. Does perfume have an expiration date? I hope not...

 My "bracelet bowl" - those are just the ones that couldn't fit in the green container! On top is a beaded bracelet that I got a the Pow Wow that they hold at my school every November, and down below are three of those jelly bracelets - one says "smoke free zone" (it was anti-pot week at my school last year), another is "Erase the Hate" from the Holocaust Museum, and the third that's hidden in the middle is for the organization Free The Children.
These are the prayer beads that my friend Manara got me from Kuwait, where here parents live. Whenever she goes back she gets me something! The purpose of these beads in Islam are to count how many times you say "thank God" or "praise God" or something along those lines each day. I use them for protection in my room!  
 My altar! The two containers in the back don't actually have candles in them, although they would usually have tealights. I also have incense there but I can't light it because of the smoke detectors in my room and in the suite. The card in the top middle is a picture my friend got me when she went to Jamaica and it's a nice representation of the god and goddess. In the middle is my black offering plate and around it are the four stones I use to represent the elements! 

 A closeup of my pendulum! In the top right is a design that looks like a woman and a cow, and that's a representation of the God and Goddess. The woman is represented as "Gaia", the embracing mother earth figure, and the god has the horns as the "green man" in the forest. 

 A closeup of my candle and the beaded holder I have :)

 Another gift from Manara! This says "Alhamduillah" in Arabic calligraphy which means "praise God" or "thank God". It's a nice reminder for me to count my blessings. 

 Windowsill details! My plants, my morter and pestle that I use to crush up herbs, a green container that sometimes holds candles and othertimes just looks nice, and my purple amethyst cluster which is great for keeping negative energy away from a location. You can also see the Sysco truck outside my window and the dumpsters. 
 Detailing on the stones in between the plants. These both came from my friend Kim and they are both things that keep me grounded on a daily basis. Sometimes I forget how strong I can be, as in, how much resilience I have, and I also worry a lot. These gifts were super thoughtful and they are very peaceful :)

 Big plant detail! I forget what this one is called, but my mom got it for me before I left for school this year. It's really lovely!

 More plant detail.

My window decorations! I am sooooo ready for fall! This is also the view I have outside my window (yay....). It's in the back of the dining hall so sometimes there will be people down there or people on the roof trying to fix things. There's also noise coming from the dumpsters often. But hey, I get a LOT of light which is fantastic! 

So there you have it, little bits of my dorm room. I hope you enjoyed seeing a tiny bit of my college life and if anyone who is in college reads this, maybe I gave you ideas of your own :) Happy Friday, everyone!!

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

~30 Day Blog Challenge - Day 16 - Happy Rosh Hashanah! ~

Hello everybody! We are more than halfway through the challenge, and I can't believe it! I have been trying to plan some cool blog posts, but the first couple days of classes have been very hectic so far, but maybe I'll have some time this weekend. How does getting crafty sound? :) I have a cool idea for a Mabon (autumn equinox) wreath that I'd like to try out, and I had some topics I wanted to talk about. Believe it or not, I did do some planning for this challenge, so I'm trying to practice being organized....It's not workout out too well. 

So as my title suggests, there's a holiday that needs to be celebrated today! Yay! Yesterday at sundown marked the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, so that means that today was the first full day. This is the start of the High Holy Days, and the next one coming up is Yom Kippur which is a time of repentance for past actions and reflection on what personal behaviors or habits could be changed for next year. This Rosh Hashanah marks the year 5774. How cool is that? So to the Jewish community out there, I'd like to wish you all a very happy and blessed Rosh Hashanah!

School has started, and I've had two days of classes as I mentioned. Oh my goodness, it has been very intense. I'm only taking four classes (I dropped my fifth class, Arabic, because I had a commitment at that time and it was just for fun) but they are all Anthropology classes. I think this is the first time I've ever had four classes in the same major all together, ever. It's a little overwhelming, especially because this is my first semester starting the major. My dorm this semester not only has a lovely view of the dumpsters behind the dining hall on this side of campus, our main common room looks out onto the roof so sometimes there are guys working out there and it's pretty awkward. My room is also right next door to the trash chute, so there's all kinds of fun noises that happen at all hours of the day. 

I am very tired already, and I'm actually on my way to nap right after this! I promise that I will have cooler posts, it's just about the time needed to make them and the planning. Stick around, though!

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Monday, September 2, 2013

~30 Day Blog Challenge - Day 13 - Crunch Time ~

Oh gosh. I really should have planned more of this challenge out! I've written some stuff down but here I am stressing at 11:40pm about what I should write because I'm under a deadline. And then it hits me - what's on my mind right now? Deadlines! 

I haven't figured out yet if I'm a person who works well or terribly under a deadline. Looking at me now, sitting at my desk, rubbing my temples and stressing about what I'm going to write, I would say that I'm absolutely horrific under a deadline. When classes start, however, I am absolutely fantastic at procrastinating and getting things done at the last minute. Is it my best work? Well, that's debatable. 

I wonder what makes us procrastinate about things in life, such as calling a friend (as I talked about in an earlier post), or getting work done, or whatever. Is it a fear of failure? With fear being such a huge part of our society and how we go about our daily lives, I'd say it's likely. I know that when I procrastinate I'm just worried about the outcome of what I'm going to do. 

Alright, I would write more, but I am totally exhausted. I've been running around all day today! I am going to leave you with this song by Mumford and Sons - Hopeless Wanderer. It's a song I've really been enjoying lately and I think that they have some great, powerful lyrics
. I hope everybody had a great Labor Day weekend and any vacations/bbq's weren't too stressful!

I will hopefully have a better post tomorrow, although I will also be running around O.o

Sleep tight, everybody!


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Sunday, September 1, 2013

~ 30 Day Blog Challenge - Day 12 - New Semester! ~

So sorry I missed yesterday's challenge, I was super tired and went to a party at a friend's house. It was great! I got to catch up with her and her family and there was some great music provided by her dad's band. All in all, a good night!

I'm all moved in on campus, and it only took...7 hours! No, it was less. I went to dinner after all my stuff was moved in and I spent the three+ hours after that arranging, putting stuff away, and so on. Pictures to come! I figured I'd talk about my hopes and goals for this semester, since I haven't made a cohesive list yet. 

  • New members for the Interfaith Movement! Enough so that next year we can have an all new e-board and be a cohesive group!
  • All A's and B's. I have some hard classes, and I don't want any C's!
  • Hold at least two events this year with The Interfaith Movement
  • Do a Wiccan ritual in my dorm
  • Decorate more!
  • Do crafts as often as I can, and to crochet something for another person.
  • Work out at least three times a week
Hmm...honestly, there's not that much! Although I am a very motivated person, I try to go with the flow as much as I can. My classes for this semester are:

  • Arabic 1
  • Anthropology of Religion
  • Intro to Cultural Anthropology
  • Biological Anthropology
  • Anth. of the Middle East (that's not the exact name of the class but I keep forgetting it)
I think the class I'm most worried about is Biological Anth, since I'm absolutely horrible at Science and I've heard the professor isn't all that great. We'll see though! I apologize for the short and unoriginal post, but I have been super busy! I will hopefully get back on track tomorrow :)

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