Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Not All Smoothies Are Created Equal

Some people think you can throw any mix of fruit into a blender and it will always taste good, but this myth is NOT TRUE.

Here's what works: frozen strawberries, banana, cinnamon apple sauce, OJ, and milk. Really well, actually. It's delicious.

Here's what apparently doesn't: peaches, mango, pineapple, honey, and ice.

I figured they are all somewhat tropical types of fruit so somehow it'll come out tasting good, but I was wrong. The flavors didn't mesh together and it tasted really watery. I'm definitely a proponent of using frozen fruit instead of ice to bulk up a smoothie because it just gives it so much more flavor. I use a little bit of milk because I like my smoothies slightly creamy.

Target's Market Pantry brand has these really good smoothie kits that come with frozen fruit and a flavor packet that probably is mostly sugar. You just add water, or juice, or whatever liquid suits your fancy. One combination I like in particular includes bananas, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. I never would've thought the banana could get along with all those dark berries, but once again I was proved incorrect.

Currently I'm looking for some sort of recipe that would involve Guava nectar because on a whim I picked it up at the store a few weeks nack. I know it tastes good, I just need something to do with it. If anyone has ideas, let me know!

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Most Epic Kitchen Experiment of 2010

As most of you know, I work in a fast food-like setting that involves fryers and a grill and grease and all that jazz. Let's call this place the kitchen, sorta similar to a McDonald's or something. Well our special yesterday in the kitchen was orange chicken like they have in Panda Express, so we had a large pan of sticky white rice as part of the dish. My favorite thing to do when we have rice is to get a little ball of it and squish it between my fingers for a while until it all mushes together and becomes like silly putty and then you play with it when you're waiting for people to serve because it's fun. People are always looking at me funny when I do this.

It was pretty slow in the kitchen at this time, so my boss Jared* took the ball I had and placed it on the grill. Tiny rice pancake, how cute! Next, he puts it in the fryer. It cooks. We cut it in fourths and eat it (*Jared, Paul, Daniel, and I) while everybody is like ewwww.

I get another ball going, this time a little bigger, and add in some shredded cheese, and Jared cuts up a piece of bacon for me, so I incorporated that into the ball as well, and flattened it into another small patty and put it in the fryer. They were all like what are you doing, Shannon, are you crazy?? I take full responsibility for this and the following operations of the night since I am the weird one who wants to try eating strange and un-natural things. I do not know why this urge came over me. But the guys continued being squeamish little babies and saying it was so gross and yucky when they took a bite, but really, it's all just food that we eat anyway, put together in a different way.

After that second one was eaten up (still begrudgingly), I told the guys to grab some more rice and start playing with it so we could make a big one, and they ended up getting a lot more than I had expected, and making this HUGE squished rice patty. This time the mix-ins came from the wide selection of the salad bar instead of our small prep station. I had to help people out while they went over and folded in a plethora of goodies into our rice patty (remember, it's not really rice anymore at this point, it's just a big ball of white gooey stuff), such as carrots and beans and I don't know what else because I wasn't there when they did it. By now it was the size of a large hamburger, and we let this one get comfy in the fryer basket for about 10 minutes, then placed it on a bun with some melted cheese and bacon. When Paul started eating his fourth of the sandwich I almost couldn't stop laughing long enough to try mine! He himself was laughing while trying to choke down what he thought was a really disgusting creation, and everyone had the funniest looks on their faces. Somehow my quarter of the sandwich did not taste bad at all! It looked like I got most of the carrots, and Paul complained that the beans in his part of the patty were what killed it, but even with beans I don't think it would've made me gag. He even ended up spitting his out. Haha.

Daniel had a few bites of his, and a bystander employee came and tried the other fourth - everybody ended up throwing the rest away because they thought it was nasty. Personally I thought it was kinda tasty with the bacon and the melted swiss, and that extra crunch from the crisped up shell of the patty. It tasted like a chicken sandwich!! I am proud to say that while everyone else was a sissy, I gladly finished my portion and spent the next 20 minutes trying to get gooey crap out of my teeth.

The whole experiment was one of the best I've seen in the kitchen so far. And that, my friends, is one of the reasons I LIKE working there.

Without access to my good camera, I had to resort to using my phone. Not such good quality but at least it's evidence. Look, it even had chipotle sauce. 

*Names of the actual people have been replaced in this story with fake ones.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Some Facebook Surveys

"A Thoughtful Facebook Survey"

1. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional. with whom would it be?
I think I'd trade places with any of the top contestants on So You Think You Can Dance. I would love to know what that experience is like, and I'd like to be able to dance again with all my abilities back, plus more. Just the opportunity to be choreographed by Wade Robson or Nappytab or Sonya Tayek would make my life, and if I could do their works of art justice.

2. If you could be any character in fiction, whom would you be?
Hermione Granger! She's cool, smart, pretty, a loyal friend, and always knows what to do. Who doesn't love Hermione?

3. What would you want to be written on your tombstone?
Rest in Pieces. Haha just kidding. I don't really care right now.

4. Do you speak in a high voice when you are talking to a dog?
Yeah. I do.

6. Have you ever eaten food meant for an animal?
Yeah I've eaten a dog biscuit or two. They're not that bad.

8. Are you friends with any nerdy people?
Yes? Everybody is a nerd in some ways. I also know some extremely smart people, but they're not antisocial geeks or anything.

11. Did you ever have an imaginary friend when you were younger?
No, and answering this question always makes me feel like I have no creativity or something. But I played with dolls a lot, and that is pretty similar. Besides, I had real friends. Ha!

12. Have you ever told a lie, in which you would get into REALLY big rouble if you had told the truth?
No. I do no have the capability for that. If can only lie about small things.

13. Do you believe in God?

14. If you do believe, why do you? And if not, why don't you believe?
That's a loaded question. First off, it starts with how I was raised and taught. But also the complexity of our universe is a testament in my mind to something greater that must have created it. Nature, the way the human body works, love. Miracles happen, and prayers are answered, and certain things and small feelings can occur that let me know someone is looking out for us.

17. Is the cup half full, or half empty right now?
I would definitely say half full. That's the optimistic one, right? It always confuses me because in my mind, half full sounds pessimistic. Like "It's only half full. Where is the rest?" type of thing. But the point is, I'm optimistic about life right now. Well deep down I am always trying to have a positive outlook towards the future and trusting in God that he has a plan for me, but as of late, I am feeling particularly happy.

18. Have you ever tried to do "the worm" while underwater?
Lol, no. Who does that? Freaks.

20. Some guy in an alley kidnaps you. He says that you will choose one of your best friends to die. If you say you don't pick one, then he kills you. What would you say?
Kill me. As long as it's not a torturous and horribly painful death, I think I can choke out the right answer and be the hero. But who knows until I get in that situation? Which will never happen anyway, cause how often do people kidnap innocent bystanders and just randomly threaten to kill their friends?


Use the 1st letter of your name to answer each of the following:

You are: Shannon! Sassy, smart, sarcastic.
Famous Music artist or group: Ssssaving Abel? They're pretty up there, at least.
3 letter word: Sob
Street name:  Second Street. Haha.
Color: Silver
Gift or present: Silly String
Vehicle: Subaru
TV Show: So You Think You Can Dance
Country: Slovakia
Boy Name: Seth
Girl Name: Shannon. duh. or Sophie. Sydney. Stacey.
Alcoholic drink: Screwdriver
Occupation: Student, which I am. orrrr Stylist, Hair. Sales Representative.
Flower: Sunflower
Celebrity: Steven Spielberg
Food: Spaghetti
Something found in a kitchen: Stove
Reason for Being Late: Stopped by a chatty neighbor on your way out the door.

"20 Controversial Questions"

Do you have the guts take this survey? Yeah.

Would you do meth if it was legalized? No.

Abortion: for or against it? Against.

Do you think the world would fail with a female president? No, certainly the WORLD would not fail. The country may fail for a large number of reasons, but so far we've had some pretty questionable presidents and we're still running. Anybody can be the right leader, they just have to have the right balance of qualities and characteristics. 

Do you believe in the death penalty? So far, yes. But admittedly, I have a lot to learn, so my opinion is not based off a whole lot. 

Do you wish marijuana would be legalized already? No.

Are you for or against premarital sex? I'm not sure. I don't care what other people do with their reproductive organs, but in my life, I think I'm against it. I definitely don't want my husband to have had sex with a whole lot of women because that leaves nothing special for me. It's a gift you can only give once, and it should be saved for the right person. 

Do you believe in God? We already went through this.

Do you think same sex marriage should be legalized? Yes. I understand some laws are based on morals and what-not, like how murder shall not be tolerated, but to say gay people can't marry is delving too far into certain religions that do not apply to everyone living in this country. Sure, God didn't create Adam and Steve, but it's not really anybody's place to say two people can't get married because they are of the same sex. 

Do you think it's wrong that so many Hispanics are illegally moving to the country? Technically it's not wrong (if they're legal) but honestly, it IS annoying. 

A twelve year old girl has a baby, should she keep it? Heavens, no! What kind of idiot would answer otherwise?

Should the alcohol age be lowered to eighteen? No.

Should the war in Iraq be called off? No comment. 

Assisted suicide is illegal: do you agree? Is it? I don't know. I feel like it is, or it should be. 

Do you believe in spanking children? I'll figure out when I get there, but I don't think I could bring myself to hurt my child, and actually I don't see how anybody else could. So I guess the answer is no. 

Would you burn an American flag for a million dollars? Hmmm. On another survey I have answered that I think burning American flags should be illegal, but to this question I almost said yes. I think burning a flag is only bad when the reasons behind it are bad, kind of like how cursing is only offensive because of the meaning or feeling behind the words. Words and actions are just ways of expressing how we feel, so if I were to burn a flag for a million dollars, it wouldn't be because I am bashing my country. And I hope others would understand that as well. I guess if it were made into a public spectacle, I would also have to take into account what people will say and think. 

Who do you think would be a better president: McCain or Obama? I think Obama is doing an ok job. I didn't really follow that election because I wasn't going to be old enough to vote. I know, I know, I still should've payed attention, but politics are just hard for me to keep up with. 

Do you think Obama will be killed? I don't like that this is the second Obama question on this survey. 

Should child predators be forced to wear signs identifying themselves? Actually that sounds like a good idea in theory. Scarlet Letter type thing. Which, actually, was pretty dumb and ineffective, but the child predator one could be useful in more ways than one.

Are you afraid others will judge you from reading some of your answers? Kinda, yeah, but not really. I haven't fully divulged any really personal or controversial viewpoints in these surveys today. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Once Upon A Dream

I dream a lot, especially if I oversleep or undersleep, but a particular dream that was memorable from last night was very Sleeping Beauty-like. I was kind of watching a live-version of the movie, but I was inside it. I wasn't Sleeping Beauty herself but I was frolicking through the forest like she was, and all the colors of the trees and the endless flowers were so vibrant and wonderful! It was magical. I picked up some very small flowers in my hand, and instantly they bloomed and multiplied all over my fingers and almost became attached to my skin. Very interesting. All day I have had this song stuck in my head.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Ogden Just Got Served! Day One

In sparing you another discussion of the frustration caused by certain men/boys in my life, I will talk about the community service mission project I've volunteered for through Bible Study. And I apologize to myself and to anyone who reads this, since my head is not in its clearest writing state at the moment, therefore things may be choppy and not fully summarize all the important stuff of the day. But I'm trying.

Anyway, it's called Serve Ogden and it's put on by Washington Heights Church. Tons of people (over 500 volunteers) are taking this week to refurbish the homes of many needy people in the Ogden area by majorly cleaning up their yards, repainting the houses, etc. Today was the first day, and so far I am definitely enjoying the experience.

The house we are working on is home to the mother and father of many kids - some adopted, some biological, of all different ages. They really just kept showing up at random times of the day like they were reproducing behind our backs, and surprising me by how big their family actually is. The mom was really nice and gave us ice cream sandwiches, making conversation while we painted their porch, and a few of the girls even wanted to chip in with the help. I will admit, the first hour of solely picking up tiny pieces of trash from all over their lawn gave me a bad first impression, but they are actually really nice and grateful we're doing this. At certain points during the day I felt like part of the Extreme Home Makeover team, which was pretty cool, but it's certainly nothing compared to what they actually do on that show.

As the project organizer said this morning, half the fun of volunteer missions is getting to know the people you're working with. I was expecting to be with a group of kids my age, but we actually ended up with more adults than college students. Everyone has a story and a personality, and in a setting like this, they're all open to making friends with whomever, no matter what your age is. I was especially delighted by the cute duo of our Bible Study leader (my brother from another mother) 's 5 year-old son and the 4 year-old of a woman on our team who's relatively new in town, who helped us rake leaves and added humor to the scene with their cutest little sayings, cause kids say the darndest things. I don't know if I will ever be able to look at a port-o-potty again without think of it as little G's "magic box."

On that note of enjoying mission projects, here's a thought: If one half comes from the relationships you build, then the other comes from that warm fuzzy feeling you get from helping others, like you swallowed a kitten, correct? Doesn't everyone do volunteer projects because it makes them feel good inside to help others? Well, call me crazy, but that sounds really selfish to me. Think about it - we're not helping people to make them happy, we're helping people because in making them happy, it makes US happy. If pleasing others causes us to feel negative emotions, it wouldn't be as contagious. So really, we're just doing it to please ourselves. Which is, therefore, very focused on the self. Not to negate volunteering in any way, of course, it's just something I've pondered on. You can't deny it makes total sense. It's a fact of life, though, we are selfish by nature.

BUT aside from that rant, volunteering is awesome and everyone should do it and make friends with old people and young people and get sprayed on with a hose, and partake in conversations about the credibility of Twilight, and have ice dropped down your shirt, and be forced to pick up dead birds. Ok ... that last part isn't so desirable, but you get the point. It's an experience worth having.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Band Names

Ok so I stole this idea from a friend. Random name generators come up with the best band names, I'm sure of it. They sound totally legit! Basically the formula is 

and you just play around with it, picking the ones you like and matching them up. At first I tried using my name, but I don't think "Shannon and the Prehistoric Demons" sounded as cool because Shannon is only two syllables and using my whole name just felt weird. I'll play around with it. 

Psycho Vectum and the Elastic Strange Electrons
Dorn Black and the Hidden Haystack
Angry Torpedo and the Pure Admirals
Flying Puppet and the Sleepy Storm Dancers
Dissapointed Shower and the Flaming Beta
Rough Steel and the Dirty Tombstones
Steady Autumn and the Restless Mustard
Eager Flea and the Remote Cosmic Rockers
Rocky Python and the Second Vegetables
Hammer Freaky and the Ivory Brigadiers
Reborn Compass and the Thirsty Messengers
Shiny Lobster and the Iron

I feel like you don't even need the internet for this, just ask a friend to write down 30 random adjectives and nouns, then put them next to each other and you'll probably get something similar to Vicious Poseidons. Easy enough, and something to do when you're super bored. 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Flaming Gorge Pics

I haven't posted in over a week! I am embarrassed and ashamed. Note to self - change "Keep up with blog" on 20 Things list to something else.

I feel like there are lots of things that have happened since my last post but I can't talk about them all. Hanging with friends at Village Inn & Wal-Mart past midnight, catch phrase and guitar hero at my house, etc. The main thing was that the family spent most of this past week in Flaming Gorge on the boat, fishing, rafting, hiking, basking in the sun, and getting sunburned. A follow-up post on my tanning thus far may or may not be in the future. Here are some of my coolest photos (out of more than 100!).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tea Party

I'm not a fan of tea. Or coffee. I wish I was, because hating tea feels like hating little children - they did nothing wrong to me and are sweet and innocent, therefore I should have no reason for my negative feelings. Awesome friends H & C and I went to the Beehive Tea Room in Salt Lake today, and whilst I did not get my own pot of straight-up tea, I got the peach tea smoothie and it was DELISH. It's not on the menu on their website but it exists, I assure you.

The Beehive Tea Room is such a fairytale - I could not imagine a cuter, quainter spot in which to curl up with a book or chat with friends on a sunny (or rainy) day. Small, individual rooms are partitioned off with romantic curtains. Soft lighting and the most awesome decor, including crazy lamps and color-coded book shelves, comfy vintage chairs with "arms that hug you," beautifully mural-ed walls, and a perfectly ambient soundtrack that could easily have been taken from Cinderella, all together create the perfect setting for a tea shop. The whole place is whimsical, fantastical, and just makes you feel happy, with the urge to talk in a British accent and lift your pinky while you sip your beverage. Add to this all the different types of actual tea and what I'm sure is amazing food, and they definitely get 5 stars. I just wish I knew more about tea so I could appreciate and marvel at the specifics of how well they keep with tradition and such ... I mean, they actually have berries and cream. That sounds pretty legit to me. It's tasty, too, I tried it. 

So anyway, if you haven't already been inside the place, be sure to pop in for a visit sometime. If you don't know what to get, just tell them what flavors you know you like and they'll help you with the rest. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Kids & Math These Days

I've been assigned this summer to "tutor" my 13 year old brother G in math - he just finished Algebra 1 in 7th grade (they get them going really early these days!). Every summer we always have these cheesy workbooks that just make you practice what you already know so you don't lose your skills, but I can see he's fallen slightly behind in all that they've tried to jam into the little tweens' heads this year. I understand that schools want kids to learn math faster, but they obviously aren't doing a thorough enough job when not everyone is understanding and they continue to build on an unstable foundation.

Alas, here I am helping my brother out with math for about an hour each day and going over all the topics he's learned, but in more depth and making 100% sure he gets it all. What a joy it is to see things click in his head that never had in school, and watch him after one week be able to find his own mistakes, understand what he did wrong, and fix them! I love it. 

We've been using this program I downloaded a free 2 week trial for - the full version is $120 - that allows me to formulate my own worksheets with problems the computer comes up with. The process is basically 
1. Choose a topic (Compound Inequalities, Mutliplying Polynomials, Factoring Quadratic Expressions ... )
2. Choose the number of problems and the difficulty level
3. Preview problems and add to the worksheet.
In the middle step, you can actually customize very specific details of each type of problem, and decide to make the questions free response or multiple choice. At the end of adding all the problems, you have the option to mix them up at random, provide a detailed heading, and even print an answer sheet. This thing is awesome!! If I ever become a teacher I am totally investing. But for now it's awesome because at the end of each day of teaching G and doing practice problems together, I can observe what he specifically needs to practice, and generate a worksheet that caters to those needs. 

On top of that awesome program, from "Kuta Software", I've been having him keep a log of all the rules that he commonly forgets or gets wrong, and I've found that actually helps him make less of those mistakes. I really feel that most kids need individualized attention in math, because it's impossible to get a class where everyone moves at the same pace. Even if something needs to be explained in a different way that takes 2 extra minutes, it makes such a difference in the long run, but realistically you can't do that for every kid in a classroom setting. No wonder fewer and fewer people are entering college on the proper math level (or so it seems, I'm not certain on any facts), when curriculums are rushed and classes are full of kids. To propel math education, it needs to be one or the other: Fast-paced curriculum with a small amount of kids to get more individualized attention, or larger classes that move slow enough for everybody to keep up. 

I really hope someone understands that besides me and acknowledges it in schools. And who knows, maybe just Utah is bad and other schools around the country are doing it right. If so, then Utah needs to get with the program and start teaching the right way. Or else I'm gonna have to get a teaching degree and change things myself! 

Oh, and here is a cool screenshot of that program I was talking about. Click on it to get the full view:

If anyone is interested, the program is available HERE for Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1 & 2, and Geometry.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Sunglass Curse

The picture you are looking at is a collection of the sunglasses I've broken in the past 2 years or so. What is NOT pictured is the collection of sunglasses broken before that time, and all the sunglasses I have lost in various places (cornmaze, Pineview Reservoir, etc.). I've probably spent a few hundred dollars on sunglasses in my lifetime because of this, and I try to keep two pairs in my possession at all time, because what happens when one loses its functionality? I need a back up!! I just really hope my aviators don't break anytime soon because they're one of my favorites. 

Update: Aviators lost at the top of ski resort, I think. Not sure. I bought two more pairs at Target (one gold, one silver) that were more expensive and less comfy. I knew I was going to miss those originals. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Oregon the Green

This past weekend I took a road trip with my friend Trost to visit our mutual friend DB in her dorms at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Twelve hours of driving through half empty voids and half beautiful forest on Friday was totally worth it to spend time with one of my best friends; the trip had been long-awaited. I managed to check off two of my 20 things (independent road trip & riding the bus) while also participating in things I didn't expect to do, but are fun and list-worthy as well, like visiting the hot springs, seeing a film in a quaint, indie church-turned movie theater, buying a lottery ticket, etc.

Eugene itself was a cute place, and its surroundings reminded me of those gorgeous landscapes out of Twilight, or the scene in Harry Potter when he first flies a hippogriff and they glide over that beautiful, calm lake. I thoroughly enjoyed the portion of the driving that took us through the dense mountains on windy curves with small rivers showing up here and there to surprise us. Going to the natural hot springs an hour away was fun in this way, too, especially when we piled 8 people into a 5-person jeep trying to find them on the wrong side of the road where the other cars weren't fit to drive. Ok that bit has nothing to do with nature, but it was still just as interesting as the steamy springs themselves, the river beside us, and the nude men across the way shouting "We peed in the lake!" Oregon is green for its trees, but also green for its hippies and I'm sure everybody knows how liberal that state is. I was really tempted to buy some awesome merchandise at the Saturday Market, but everything was too much money. They had some cool stuff, though.

DB gave us an expert tour of the campus that was sort of like walking through a candy store ... where the candy is trees ... According to wikipedia there are over 500 varieties of trees on campus! But enough talk about plants, the school had other nice qualities, like their yummy dorm food (huge breakfast buffet!) and totally cool PEOPLE that were so friendly. We had fun just hanging out at night playing guitar hero while eating pop tarts, or watching Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in the guys' room. Although I will say, dorm beds aren't nearly as comfy as couches when you all have to awkwardly position your body to face the tv and SOME part of you ends up uncomfortable, no matter how many ways you try to sit.

Time spent at our destination was great, but getting there was half the battle, and there are some things I could mention on that front. For one thing, I find it completely unnecessary to have people fill up your gas tank for you - in OR it's actually illegal to do it yourself. Trost asked our new friends if they even knew how to, and I believe Morgan's response was something along the lines of "I've done it once or twice." Also, they need to change the speed limit from 55 to 75, because it's simply ridiculous to come home and say that you sped 25/30 mph over the limit through the majority of the state. You can easily go 80 and not worry one bit about getting caught, because in the middle of all that NOTHINGNESS, a cop would have to travel hundreds of miles from the nearest town to sit and wait for people to pass by occasionally. It just doesn't, and isn't going to happen.

And after single handedly driving the whole 12 hours on the way back, I am thankful for free things: Music, Monster, and my driving companion. If not for them, I wouldn't have ever been able to drive that long without falling asleep, and I enjoyed a few very lengthy high school-reminiscing conversations with Trost. And thank the Lord for an Ipod battery that has the endurance of the Energizer bunny: we listened to everything from Queen to Death Cab for Cutie, Taylor Swift, Breaking Benjamin, Fall Out Boy, Billy Joel, Rick Astley, and to top the night off, a marathon of Disney songs. Trost and I made quite the ballad team, singing along to duets from Aladdin, the Lion King, and all the random ones in between (Let's get down to business ... to defeat ... the huns!)

All in all I couldn't say I had a bad experience that entire weekend and I know we all had a fun time. Right, DB? Now time for some evidence of the trip that was Memorial Day Weekend of 2010.

(Note: the first picture is cool because of the mirror)