Sunday, September 29, 2013

National Coffee Day

I'm making a confession: I love coffee. I'm making another confession: I like chocolate coffee. If that makes me a wimp, I am sorry. But every week, I look forward to the one day that I get to go with my friends to bible study at our local coffee house. I know it's not wonderful to become addicted to coffee, but let's face it. Would a mother rather her teenage daughter be addicted to Cafe mochas or Monsters and other energy drinks that contain alcohol?
Midterms are coming up...tomorrow. This weekend, I spent my days curled up in a booth in the coffee shop, sipping my mocha as I poured over European history and oceanography. No matter how long the hours were and how complicated the material became, I took a sip of my coffee, and the day just felt better.
The perks to a coffee house:
1. People watching (interesting characters always come into the shop, and one might overhear some very curious topics on occasion)
2. The smell of coffee (it's everywhere! And by the time you leave, the delicious scent is stuck to your clothes)
3. The music (I don't know why, but whatever station they have the radio on is always great. But if you get tired of their music, you can always pop in some earbuds and jam to your own tunes).
4. The art (When you get completely frustrated with your study material, take a break, look up, and admire the wonderful art. I had the treat of watching them strip the walls and replace them with new paintings that had a central theme: coffee :D)
5. No judging (At the coffee house, everyone is allowed to be who they want. There are weirdos, teachers, hipsters, preps, professionals, musicians, the like.)
6. The snacks (Brownies, cookies, cakes, and muffins galore. Pick from the wide variety of options and settle in for the afternoon).
7. THE COFFEE (If you are lucky enough to have a genuine coffee shop, not a starbucks or Java Joes, take advantage of it. I guarantee that the coffee will taste ten times better!)

So today, on this day of celebrating coffee, show your coffee houses how much you appreciate them by marching on those creaky wooden floors and purchasing a cup of steaming coffee and a nice cookie to complement it.

You already know my favorite coffee. What's yours?

Friday, September 27, 2013

How to Survive the ACT

I consider myself a champion of the ACT…not because I have the perfect score, but merely based on the amount of times I’ve taken this dreaded test of intelligence. I just completed my fourth and final test, and now I look back on it…I would say fondly, but then I would be lying. Let’s face it; the ACT is not easy. It wasn’t meant to be easy. If you’re one of those people who can just walk into the test completely unprepared and walk out with a thirty-five by just plugging and chugging, I applaud and envy you. For those of us who over think everything and like to take the time to analyze and understand our reading or really work through the math problem, this test is our worst enemy. So here are a few helpful hints to help get you through the test that I’ve picked up from my two prep classes.

1. ALWAYS bring a watch, and not a digital watch. Ask your grandparents for a watch if you’re that updated.
2. Answer ten, mark ten. Write the answers in the book then go back in fill them in.
3. For English, unless it has a big box for the last question, don’t read the entire passage. It’s not a comprehensive test.
4. For math, don’t over think the question. Look at it calmly, and if it can’t be plugged in, work it in.
5. In reading, read the questions before skimming the passage. You’re timed, remember?
6. In science: five question sections refer to pictures; six question sections refer to pictures and passages/knowledge; seven question sections refer to passages.
7. Make sure you have plenty of pencils.
8. Studies show that chocolate and mint are the most stimulating for the brain, so pop a York Peppermint Patty before each test to get your brain cells going.
9. Don’t just not study. Trust me, it doesn’t work.
Yes, this is my painting. I'm sticking to my day job
10. BREATHE. In the end, it’s just a test. It’s not the end of the world.

So now that you’ve managed to survive and you have three weeks to wait before you get the results, why don’t you take this opportunity to relax and commend yourself for having the courage to take the monster test. Make yourself some bubbly. Pop in your favorite movie and veg out. Paint even if you’re an awful artist. Bake…for someone or for yourself. You deserve a little treat. Go on a refreshing walk with the dog, or cat, or whatever other critter you m
ight have lounging around the house.
Believe me, once you get through this test, this is all your going to want to do. Why not just indulge yourself?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

13 Things to do in East Tennessee

I've lived in East Tennessee for most of my life. The sad part is that I haven't visited all of these exciting sights...yet. As much as I hated it here when I first moved, I love it now. We're your typical southern state, but we're different. They don't call us the volunteer state for nothing. We work together to make our small slice of the world a beautiful, clean, desirable place to live. East Tennessee is a must on your bucket list of travels!

 13. Market Square in Knoxville
 12. Wonderworks Museum
 11. Cades Cove
 10. Visit the Ripley's Museums
 9. Titanic Museum
 8. Downtown Gatlinburg
 7. Ruby Falls outside Chattanooga
 6. Dollywood, of course!
 5. The International Storytelling Center
 4. Chattanooga aquarium
 3. Visit the Chattanooga Choo Choo
 2. Go Snow tubing in Ober Gatlinburg
1. Hike in the Smokey Mountains--duh!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Since the movie has recently been released, it is time to learn a little bit about the Mortal Instruments.
Cassandra Clare is a brilliant genius. I started reading the Mortal Instruments Series five or so years ago, and I’m still following the breathtaking, enticing stories of Clary Fray and Jace Wayland (Morgenstern?…you don’t know the truth until you read them all). We all know the typical by-line of fantasy/action/romance novels: “this event happened and turned the main character’s life upside down.” Well, that’s true for Clary Fray, but what if that event was seeing a murder that no one else could see? What if that event was realizing that demons exist, and you’re a member of a long line of demon hunters? Then you throw in a couple of attractive guys, a memory block, and the disappearance of your mother, and life is more than upside down…it’s in shambles. Can Clary find the missing mortal instrument and her mother before a stream of nightmares invades our world?

Movie Critique:
I must admit, I was very unsure about this movie. The cast made me nervous, and there’s so much fantasy wrapped into one story that I didn’t know how Harald Zwart was going to do it. I was proven wrong. The actors did great, except for one very awkward fake-sounding guy, and if you’ve seen the movie, you know who I’m talking about. I’m not going to name names. The changes made to the story line I actually appreciated. Most of them actually added suspense, not that this book lacks suspense in the least. It was actually a successful book-movie, one I appreciate being made into a movie. The silent brother’s are terrifying; Jace is horribly pompous yet devilishly attractive. After I saw the movie, I was itching to see it again. Any offers?

Cassandra Clare:
Cassandra Clare, or Cassie, started out writing in California for tabloids and entertainment magazines, giving the world their daily scoop on Brad and Angelina’s invigorating life. She started writing City of Bones in 2004 and became a full time writer in 2006 (dream come true). City of Bones is her first published novel, but she her first professional writing is a short story called “The Girls Guide to Defeating the Dark Lord.”

Mortal Instruments Quizzes—prove your knowledge:

Saturday, September 14, 2013

September 11th

In honor of 9/11, my pastor chose to stray from our bible study's lesson plan by educating us on a growing peace movement. 9/11 is filled with fear, anger, pain, despair, and vengeance, but does anyone ever think about peace? Living in America, we don't know what a war-struck nation is like. Our soldiers do, but our streets are not being patrolled by extremists with guns. We are not living under anarchy, but the women of the Blue Scarf Movement are. This peace movement started in 2008 in Kandahar when a group of women decided to stand up against their war-ravaged lives. They wanted peace, and they believed that the way to acheive that was through love. The blue scarf symbolizes the FACT that we all live under one, big blue sky. Millions of more women AND men have joined the movement, and now it is spreading across the world.
Do I think this is a logical end to war? No, not in the world that we live in. I'm not encouraging mass amunition, but we have to accept reason. However, I do embrace the thought behind the movement. Peace is a wonderful idea, and something that we should all pray for--for peace of mind, heart, and for our world. I wish with all my heart that we live in a peaceful world, but I'm realisitic enough to know different.
The supporters of this movement wear their blue scarfs as a unifying symbol. My blue scarf is a symbol and reminder of peace. This past Wednesday, my pastor told us to write quotes and draw pictures that remind us of peace. Our normally chatty group was hushed as we thought over our qoutes and pictures carefully, trying to think of words and images that truly called peace to our minds. This is my Blue scarf. You don't have to believe in the success of the movement to believe in the message that it's conveying. Go to your local craftstore, purchase a blue scarf, and start drawing.
We all live under one blue sky, so let's start acting like it.