Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Travel Must Haves You Might Forget

             I have never been satisfied with staying in one place or with one thing for too long. Honestly, I get bored - theres so much out there and so many opportunities and Ive somehow convinced myself that I can do it all if only I set my mind to it. This in itself has issues, mainly in the fact that I cram my schedule full with everything humanely possible and then continue to answer yes when people ask if I can help with something. I absolutely love living like this, stress and all! But I realize not everybody does.
            This mind set of I-can-do-it-all-stand-back-and-watch-the-power-roar has led me on unique adventures and new trails all around the world. It doesnt take a genius to figure out that my passport is one of my favorite items and traveling one of my favorite uses of time. But, again, I realize not everybody lives like this.
            For all of you reading this going By golly, she sounds insane! I would HATE constant change and long airplane rides and not knowing the language and forgetting my toothbrush in the bathroom of some foreign airport and having to bundle six layers deep just to trudge through the snow to the bathroom and the stress of packing for trips and everything in between! Ive kindly broken the experience down for you so that you can travel the world from the comfort of your warm house while eating a bowl of ice cream. Im going to have to pause for a second and reminisce about the days when I too lived in a warm house and had access to ice cream.
            To begin with, Ive compiled a list (in no specific order) of the top five things NEVER to forget while traveling overseas. Youre welcome.
            1) Your passport. This should be a given. Honestly, if you try to leave the country without a passport youve set yourself up for failure on step one. Its also important not to leave your passport sitting somewhere in the airport. Again, this may seem common knowledge, but I once had the scare of traveling with someone who set her passport down on her suitcase, forgot about it, and began wheeling away with nothing to strap that all-important document down. Your passport is important. Period.
            2) Individual drink mix packets. Are those a God-send, or what? For one thing, airport food is insanely expensive, because they know youre trapped, and the free water fountain water gets very old, very fast. I dare you to fill up your water bottle from the fountain (or purchase one at any of the overpriced vendors), sit down at your gate, whip out one of those bad boys and turn your plain water into something from the color spectrum of delicious. See if every other passengers eyes dont light up. Secondly, in most countries we Americans can only drink filtered water. My point stands - plain water (no matter how impressive your filter is) gets boring. The drink mixes are like parties waiting to happen. And when youre serving in Africa with only a large bottle or two of water every day, youre going to want a party to make your taste buds sing.

            3) This is the place where I would normally write camera, but since nobody ever leaves home without their smartphone, Im not going to include that particular item. Instead, number three will be book. This can be anything from your favorite paperback to your well-worn holy book, the worlds corniest joke book to a book of puzzles, a cookbook of 10,000 Recipes To Try Before You Die Because Your Taste Buds Will Mutiny if You Dont to a notebook for composing love letters. It can even be an e-reader. Whatever your personal preference may be, bring it. Plane rides are long. Layovers are long. The list of interesting articles in your in-flight magazines is short. Do yourself a favor and bring a book or two. But dont feel the need to overcompensate! I used to think that reading was my superpower and I never left home without a book. On trips I would fill entire bags with my future novelistic conquests only to return home with the bag full and untouched. Once, to abide by the weight-of-baggage rules, I even brought an extra coat with TONS of pockets and stuffed that thing with at least ten thick books. I read one. Just one. Dear people, its important to bring one or two books, hence it made this list, but dont feel the need to bring a library. Not only do the security guards look at you funny, but its no fun wearing a coat that weighs more than you do.

            4) Pantomiming skills. True, this isnt necessarily something that you pack into your carry-on with care, but you might want to brush up on your skills before heading out into the great unknown! As someone currently living overseas in a non-English speaking country, I can tell you with absolute certainty that as long as you can act out a scene of the huge mouse shaking hands in the castles shadow amidst a bunch of fair rides you dont need to have the vocabulary for Yes, Ive been to Disneyland.
            5) Toilet Paper. Again, this works for almost any situation anywhere. I cant even count the number of times Ive been in an airport bathroom and realized that theres no toilet paper in the stall. This actually happened to me just last week. And it was a bummer. The stranger next to me was kind enough to offer me some of hers, but there wasnt a hole underneath the door, so I was up the creek without a boat (yes, that is officially the saying). So its handy in the airport. Outside of the airport, depending on what part of the world youre traveling to, you sometimes get bonding time with nature as opposed to toilets. I think you can connect the dots yourself and figure out why toilet paper is great in that scenario. Where Im currently living, the squatty potty is all the way across the courtyard and when I realize theres no toilet paper in there it just ruins my moment.  I dont really want to venture through the snow again just to get some stinking toilet paper. I know someone who actually carries toilet paper around in her pocket. Genius! Toilet paper can be used for more than you-know-what. In places where you cant buy tissues, toilet paper is the perfect replacement. Same goes for not being able to find cotton balls. Or paper towels. Toilet paper - the master of all paper products. I bet you could even write a letter on it if need be.

     Of course, youll probably want to bring along clothing and contact solution and such. But the above list of 5 convenient and easy-to-find-in-the-USA are things that I recommend ALWAYS bringing with you when you travel. Even if that means leaving your toothbrush behind to fit your gallons of powdered drink mix. You can always buy a new tooth brush in the airport! 

 -Miriam Thurber

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"I'm Just a Minor Threat so Pay No Mind." -Good Charlotte

I hate the concept of age.  I understand wanting to quantify your existence but age is blown way out of proportion.  Age is a restrictive box everyone is crammed into.  Age definitely has a place but I don’t think it should be such an important factor in everyday life.  Ageism negatively impacts and restricts people of all ages. 

Age greatly impacts the respect you get.  Just because you lack wrinkles doesn’t mean you lack wisdom and just because you have gray hair doesn’t mean your thoughts are exceptional.  Some people don’t have valuable wisdom and some people do have exceptional thoughts but it isn’t contingent upon their ages and neither should the respect the person receives. 

My oldest niece was born when I was ten.  My sister had a carrier that you strapped on to your shoulders to hold the baby hands free.  Sometimes when we went shopping or something similar someone else would take a turn holding the baby.  I was ten and the other two aunties were twelve and fourteen.  When one of us was holding the baby people gave us many dirty looks.  They didn’t offer to help hold the door or any other courtesies usually extended to people in general and especially a new mom.  People were so shocked and disgusted to see what they thought was a young teen mom that they lowered the amount of respect they gave us just because we weren’t a suitable age. 

Another way age impacts respect is with the word minor.  I can’t stand that word!  It implies that people under eighteen are not complete or worthy.  This is showed in society with things like voting age and a minor’s inability to give consent to things.  I recently had a situation where consent was involved.  It juggled teacher consent, doctor consent, legal consent, parental consent, but no where did it ask for my consent while it was concerning me.  I find that a bit backwards.  This teaches kids that they don’t have rights to their own bodies and lives.  Minors are worthy of better treatment and a better title. 

There is this big misconception that age is equivalent to maturity.  This is incorrect.  Not all five year olds are socially and mentally ready for kindergarten just because they are five.  In the same way that not all fifty year olds are at the same level socially and mentally.  Grades in school continue to divide and confine kids through senior year.  I was involved in a workshop last year where I was the only person who wasn’t an adult.  When the workshop finished a few of us started planning our own little group.  It was all going well until my age came up accidently.  Everyone seemed to clam up and start treating me differently.  They wanted to contact my parents.  I know they were just trying to be responsible but it upset me.  One day I was capable of making my own decisions and being their equal and the next they wanted parental say so to meet with them.  When they didn’t know my age they were judging my maturity and responsibility on their interactions with me.  When my age was thrown in I became a teenager in a group of adults instead of a just another member in their group. 

People spend a lot of time worrying if they are the way they should be for their age.  People say you act too young or you act too old.  Why does no one tell you you’re just right?  One person’s just right is very different from another person’s just right at the same age and that’s ok.  I remember when I was thirteen we were having family dinner on a Sunday night.  I was sitting next to my sister who was twenty-four at the time.  I was feeling giggly and being silly.  She said something along the lines of, “I don’t like it when you act like a thirteen year old.”  Usually I acted more mature around her.  I remember being struck by that sentence and thinking no matter how I acted during that year I was still going to be thirteen.  At thirteen I could be quiet and thoughtful or loud and giggly but I continued to be thirteen regardless.  People change with age but age shouldn’t pressure people to conform or change. 

As a teen in high school I felt like a racecar revving at the starting line.  My whole life has been learning and practicing and preparing for the future but sometimes the future seems too far away.  What about now?  People spend a lot of time waiting for the future and regretting the past.  Age encourages this.  Let’s ditch the restrictive force of age and embrace the present.  Don’t let your age dictate your life.  You’re not too old and you’re not too young.  You’re just right.   

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Healthy Harvest Muffin Toppers

Of all the lust worthy bread products out there muffins come close to number one.  The best part of a muffin is -hands down- the top. This recipe is for harvest-inspired, nutritious muffin toppers.

Healthy Harvest Muffin Toppers:


  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 c white sugar
  • 1/2 c oil
  • 3/4 c apple sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp mint
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 2 c oats
  • 1 1/2 c shredded carrots
  • 1 c raisins
  • 1 mashed banana

1. preheat oven to 350*F
2. combine wet ingredients in a bowl and mix together
3. combine dry ingredients in a bowl and mix together
4. add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in roughly half cup increments
5. add good grub to wet and dry ingredients
6. cover baking sheets with tinfoil and drop a heaping table spoon of batter per topper, if there is extra brown sugar consider adding a pinch to the top of each drop
7. bake for 13 minutes
8. cool slightly, devour

optional toppings: butter, cream cheese, maple syrup, honey

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Magazine I Couldn't Find

I was in the bath,cocooned in bubbles, reading a magazine, thinking all was right in the world, well, at least my little world.  Yet I had a niggling thorn in me refusing to allow the bliss to metastasize.  I read on, ignoring the feeling in my gut while learning how to tone it in three weeks with five simple moves. 
Two months later I repeated this routine with the next issue.  I read about friendship troubles and how to fix them.  The advice all seemed the same; join a new club, meet new people, branch out.  My graduating class had around 60 kids in it, many I'd known since preschool.  Branching out was not an option.  It hit me like a really good novel with a crappy ending.  I didn't grow up having myriad clubs to join or thirty dollars to spend on a cute necklace that might snag me a date.  I could never make an awesome first impression in the fall because the teachers already knew everyone.  What's a girl like me to do? I was being pulled between slick, glossy photos of teen models and my quaint village upbringing (population 1100).  I was yearning for a magazine I could relate to.  As Regina Spektor, singer and song writer, says,
It started out as a feeling
Which then grew into a hope
Which then turned into a quiet thought
Which then turned into a quiet word
And then that word grew louder and louder
'Til it was a battle cry

This is the magazine I was looking for and couldn't find. 
I hope you enjoy this journey,
Plain Jane

*I refer to PJ as a magazine because that is what I hope she'll become, blog format is intended as the spring board.