Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Activism Is Back: Join the Student Revolution!

    Student activism is on the move, and it's making a comeback. I have witnessed this movement firsthand this year on my own college campus. As some of you may know, I attend UC Santa Cruz, a university that prides itself on its own background in activism and radical politics. Though the university administration has its own ideas about what is acceptable from student activism, through my attendance here I have come into contact with many different types of political action ranging the full spectrum of issues. In this school year alone, UCSC has been a massive protest site going up against proposed tuition hikes, and students have occupied an administrative building and shut down a highway! About a week ago, the UC announced a tuition freeze for the next two years. The student activism at all the UC's paid off!! 

     However, what I find most interesting is that the UC students aren't the only ones protesting. According to this article (which is an excellent read), over 160 student protests took place across the U.S. during the fall semester (quarter) of 2014 alone! Most of them were rooted in issues of sexual assault and violence or issues of university governance and student's rights. It's not just college students either! High school students have been making a stir with their own protest recently too, including fighting against sexist dress codes and getting involved with the strike that happened here at UCSC in March. 

        Students across the country are standing up against corrupt administrations and poor treatment of their peers. Our generation isn't happy with the the way things are being run - so of course we're going to protest it! Rallies, protests, occupations, and marches on the UC Santa Cruz campus this year have centered around a myriad of issues, ranging from divestment to tuition hikes to racism and class warfare. Experts cited in the article above posit that "there is something of a movement" afoot. Hell yeah, there's a movement! Many of my fellow students have engaged in at least one instance of activism or civil disobedience this year. Casual conversations in my friend groups often turn to discussions of politics and all the problems we see in the world. In a time of uncertain futures and anxiety over things like climate change and potential societal collapse (thanks, NASA), it's extremely difficult for students not to be concerned with the greater issues of the world. 

       Some say that young people activate because they are idealistic, but the attitude I've observed in many of my colleagues is that we activate because we have to. If we don't stand up for the rights of the people and the planet, then who will? Those in power seem to be failing us, and students are increasingly frustrated with the way things are run as well as their lack of power to make change. Many students know that the world needs to change, and it seems like it's up to us to change it. 
      If things keep up the way they've been going, we will have some serious revolution on our hands. The UC Administration has agreed to freeze tuition hikes for two more years, and protests against racism and sexual violence on college campuses are gaining those issues some serious attention. The U.S. Department of Education is investigating 94 colleges for violation of Title IX, UC Santa Cruz among them. This is just the beginning of what we can and are going to do. 

          So, what does all this mean for you? I'll tell you what it means to me: get out there, get active, and create radical change. Start thinking about how the world could be different and better, and start talking to your friends about those things too. Get involved with causes you care about. Join the crowds in protests, but also come up with solutions and new ideas and work towards them. The last thing we want is a power vacuum when we finally dismantle corrupt university and governmental administrations. Join organizations and conversations. Put yourself out there, speak up, and get involved. The more voices are added to the cause, the more power we as students gain. Join the revolution! 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Vegan and Gluten - Free Mashed Potatoes!

Hi everyone! Today's recipe is from The Minimalist Baker, featuring some darn good Vegan Mashed Potatoes! I brought these to a vegan and gluten free potluck recently and they were devoured. I love the texture of them and they are definitely some of the tastiest potatoes I've had. 

  • 6-8 medium yukon gold potatoes (if large, cut in half)*
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 5-6 cloves roasted garlic (or sub minced garlic sautéed for 3 minutes in olive oil)*
  • 3-4 Tbsp vegan butter (such as Earth Balance), melted/softened
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives for topping
  1. Place potatoes in a large saucepan or pot and cover with water. Bring to a light boil over medium-high heat, add 1 tsp of sea salt, cover and cook for 25-30 minutes or until very tender. They should effortlessly slide off a knife when pierced with a knife.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, chop up your chives and measure your butter.
  3. Once tender, drain your potatoes and place them back in the hot pot off the heat for 1 minute to evaporate any additional water. Then transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  4. Mash your potatoes using either a potato masher or a hand mixer until fluffy. Note: Be careful using a hand mixer as you can overmix the potatoes and they can become gluey. It’s personally the method I prefer as I don’t own a potato masher. I just make sure not to overmix.
  5. Add in butter, garlic, salt, black pepper and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  6. Lastly top with chives, stir and serve as is or your favorite gravy (or mushroom gravy). Leftovers will keep in the fridge covered for up to a few days.

Here's a picture of some of my students at the potluck!! They look so happy and healthy! 

Happy cooking!!! 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Things I Love Thursday!!

      Hi friends! Happy Thursday! Today is a beautiful wonderful day and you are all going to rock it. To celebrate this fine Thursday, I'm starting things off with a gratitude list, Things I Love Thursday. Here is what I'm grateful for today!

    Sunshine + Aloe vera + Nice people + Kisses + Hugs + People who care + Making art + Smiles + Individuality and freedom + High speed internet (I will miss you!) + Google calendar + Being able to receive medical care + All people who crusade for justice (Baltimore riots, what up) + My beautiful parents + Gardening + Delicious, healthy, and home-cooked food + Kitchens! + Comfortable sandals + The beautiful weather in Santa Cruz! + That feel when you find housing + Being healthy! + Aikido + Being brave enough to do things beyond your comfort zone + Good music + Old music! + All my hippy friends :) + Natural history + Less than 5 weeks till summer + Beautiful hair + Being surrounded by beautiful and magical human beings + Hats + Having a personal style + Not wearing a bra (sooo comfy) + Wearing short shorts + Dancing + Being able to teach a class here at UCSC + Facebook and other social media tools, those things are so darn useful + The internet! + Fun activities + Potlucks + Fresh fruit + Farmer's markets + Travel opportunities + Having long, interesting, and wonderful conversations + Pillows + Blankets + Mattress toppers + Visits from friends + Letters + Getting checks in the mail! + Etsy orders + My Etsy shop! + Hearing no sound but the wind + Butterflies + Adventure Time and Gilmore Girls + Little caterpillars + Open and communicative people + Bonfires + An abundance of friends + Opportunities to celebrate + Laughter + Beautiful jewelry + Dogs + Wildlife + Outer space + Nice professors + Being able to attend UCSC + Birds + The Beatles + Donuts

    My love and blessings to all of you! Today has been good to me so far, how about you? What are you grateful for today? Feel free to share or just soak in the gratitude. Good luck to you today. 
P.S.: You can find both the shirt and the skirt I am wearing in the photo above in my Etsy Shop. Please go check it out!

Photos: 1

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Create the Life of Your Dreams: Express Yourself

      Today I'm going to talk about one of the best ways to explore life and figure out who you are: by expressing yourself! Man, self-love is just looking better and better! We've already learned how expressing your weird and radical self is a way to smash the capitalist patriarchy. Now we're going to see how expressing yourself to the your greatest heights and following your heart is quite possibly the best way to move through life, both for you and everyone around you! Let us embark:

      Expressing yourself as deeply and fully as you can will get you where you want to go, accompanied by the kind of people you want to be with. How can this be true? Well, when you express yourself fully and completely, this means you will speak and act your truth. Your truth is who you really are. what you really think, feel, care about, etc. 

     To apply this to a situation, let's say that you're in the company of someone who you have recently met and who you are romantically interested in. You're talking to them and you suddenly see that they are pretty sexist. You are a radical being and you are not about to let the patriarchy win. But you like the person. What are you going to do? You have two options. Let it go or speak the truth. If you let it go, and you keep on doing so, you may wind up in a relationship with some sexist bozo. Ouch. If you speak your truth either to the other person or just to yourself, you might get into an argument or end your relationship with that person, but trust me, you are much better off without a sexist partner as your significant other. 

    Speaking your truth about what you really want and who you really like and how you truly feel will help you avoid situations that don't serve you and that you are not interested in. It will also help you find the situations that you are interested in! 

     For example, let's say that you have heard about an organization in your community that you are really interested in but haven't had time or the courage to go and visit/volunteer for. But let's say that one day you decide to act on your truth, meaning you go to the organization and get involved! Yay! Because you are doing this thing that you are really interested in, you will be exposed to all kinds of new concepts related to whatever it is you are interested in. You will learn a lot! You'll get exposed to lots of opportunities related to what you're interested in which can take you to all kinds of wonderful places, geographically and spiritually. You will also meet a bunch of people who have something in common with you since they are affiliated with that organization. You'll make friends and social networks! Following your heart by fully expressing and following your desires will facilitate all kinds of personal growth as well, which means you will learn more about who you are along your way. All of these positive things simply came from one thing, you acting upon your truth. 

   So now we know that expressing you weird, radical, and beautiful self through speaking and acting your truth (aka doing whatever you want and acting on your desire/following your heart) allows you to learn more about what you're interested in, get cool opportunities that may take you cool places, meet people who are interested in the same things (and also probably cool and friendly since part of speaking your truth will probably involve keeping up relationships only with people who meet that criteria), and most importantly learn more about yourself! Doesn't that just sound like a dream come true? But, how exactly does one fully, deeply express oneself? Well, lucky for you, I've got tips for that. 

    The key to expressing oneself fully, deeply, and completely, is simply about listening to yourself. Listen to your inner voice and do what it asks. If it wants to wear a bandana around its neck even though your inner self-critic thinks that's weird, go ahead. If it wants to volunteer at a garden even though your inner self critic is afraid you'll suck for some reason, go do it anyway. We've all got wishes and desires, secret and long-harbored longings to do this, go there, wear that, make this. Act on those desires. Follow your heart, let your intuition lead the way when deciding what to do. Keep in mind what is best for you and what will cause you to experience the most personal growth. 

    Simply giving yourself enough space and freedom from the fear constantly voiced by your inner critic will be enough to let you see what you want to do. Then all you have to do is go do it! 

    I challenge you to try this out tomorrow. When you get up in the morning, wear something awesome. Creatively express yourself through your appearance. Shake up your daily routine by asking yourself, "What do I really want to do today?". Make time for that and do it. 

    Lately, acting on my truth has involved spending a lot of time outside. While this has resulted in a few sunburns and mosquito bites, it has also lead me to an increased sense of happiness and peace, productivity (I read much better in the sunlight), and new social experiences (recently while doing my reading outside I met some potential housemates for next year! But that's another story). Even the simple act of following my heart by spending more of my time outside has lead to personal growth, happiness, and new situations. 

    I'm telling you man, get weird! Get out there! Dress the way you want! Go to awesome and interesting events! Explore the world around you! Meet new people! Get involved! Express yourself and follow your heart, the universe is your playground and treasure chest, two in one. Good luck. 

    P.S. If you need more encouragement, here's Labrinth:

photos: 1, 2, 3

Thursday, April 9, 2015

How I've Avoided Buying New Clothes For More Than A Year

Hello friends! Today is part two of my series on the why and how of avoiding the purchase of new clothing. I'm going to illustrate several strategies I've employed to avoid new clothes while still looking sharp. Here we go!

1. Shop at thrift stores and consignment shops! 
     Thrift shops are honestly the best place you could ever dream of to buy clothing. Seriously, have you seen my thrift haul videos? Treasure troves. There's a lot to sift through, but the things I find at thrift stores are (a unique, (b priced well, c) wonderfully sustainable and non-exploitative, and d) generally very good quality clothing! I wear a lot of clothes that are older than me, and the reason they made it that long is usually because they are very well made pieces, much better than what you usually buy at malls. Consignment and secondhand stores can be a bit pricier but have fewer things to sift through and are better organized. One I can recommend is Plato's Closet. They're all over the U.S. and I get all my jeans from there!

2. Shop at flea markets and church events!
      There are flea markets in my town that happen at least once a month, I believe. However, my best kept secret is a church flea market that happens in my town every year. During the last hour of the flea market, everything goes on sale for a dollar per bag of stuff. Last year I took home four paper grocery bags full of clothing for four bucks! Seek out events like these. They are great resources! 

3. Shop online or on apps!
       If you're looking for specific items, one of the best places to look is eBay. Lots of nice secondhand stuff can be found on that website. There are also a couple apps which allow you to sell your old clothes and buy or trade for other users old clothes, including an app called Vinted. Additionally, there are a couple websites like Twice that allow you to sell used clothes and buy those of others! Also, shop on Etsy! There are so many great vintage finds and handmade pieces, plus that money you spend supports a small business, aka real people who aren't exploiting anyone! Some of my favorite shops are OH-ZIE, Nube Menta, DoppelStandard, and of course my own, Good Vibrations Vintage!  All are excellent alternatives that allow you to find nice quality clothes without creating an economic demand for new ones. 

4. Host and attend clothing swaps! 
     I wrote an article a while ago about hosting a swap meet. In my town they are fairly common events. Always be on the lookout and try to attend them if you need some clothes. Most are free if you bring something to trade! They are also super fun to host and great excuses to bring together family and friends. 

5. Shop your friends' and relatives' closets!
   Trade with your friends and family! Or just take stuff for free! Half of my wardrobe used to belong to my mom. Not kidding. Many of my clothes have also been given to me by friends who didn't need them anymore, including all of my bras! My friend and her housemates keep a big giveaway pile of stuff they don't want in their living room so that people are free to look through it any time. We do the same thing at my parent's house. Many people have clothes skulking in their closets that they don't need or don't want. Just ask! 

6. Look for free bins at stores and public places!
     Just like many places have free or exchanged based library bookshelves, there are also free bins with all sorts of things. There's a food co-op  here on campus that has one, and today I found a beautiful red velvety skirt in there! Look around, they're closer than you think, and free!

7. Participate in clothing giveaways and contests!
    Sometimes I host giveaways here on this blog, and I am definitely not the only one. While participating in giveaways is not the most reliable source of clothes, it is free, and fun. Google "clothing giveaways" and see what you get. 

8. DIY your clothes 
    Try mending your clothes instead of throwing them out when they rip. I have so many clothes I have mended or patched. It saves money, adds character, and builds your crafting skills. Next on my list is learning how to darn my socks! You can also DIY to add flair to your clothing. I know a lot of people who sew patches onto denim jackets or jeans to make a statement. I often take clothes in or reshape them entirely to get the look I want. The plethora of DIY tutorials on the internet is endless, just for t-shirts alone. I learned how to both take in and let out the waistband of pants on YouTube. The resources are out there. Try it, it's fun! 

      So, that's how I've avoided buying new clothes for more than a year! The amount of resources available to you is staggering once you investigate, and I completely left out borrowing and renting based solutions (which are also worth looking into)! Bottom line: now that you know why and how, there is no reason why you can't support sustainability and social justice by joining forces with me and refusing to buy new clothes! So jump on in, the water's fine! See you at the thrift shop ;)

photos: 1, 2

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Why I Haven't Bought New Clothes in More Than a Year

  Yes, that's right. The last time I bought anything new was in December of 2013. Now, to many people that might sound totally crazy, and even boring and torturous. Yeah, I get it, clothes shopping is fun! I agree. However, there are a myriad of reasons to not buy new clothes and that's what I'm going to talk about today.

     Here are my five golden rules of why not to buy new clothes:

1. Buying new clothes is unsustainable.
    When you buy a new piece of clothing, you are creating a demand. You are sending a message with your power as a consumer that more new clothes must be made, because people want and are going to buy new clothes. This means that all kinds of resources are going into the creation of new clothes. If you buy a new cotton t-shirt, think for a second about how that cotton t-shirt was made. The cotton was grown somewhere, probably through the use of unsustainable farming practices that incorporated heavy use of pesticides and fossil fuels in their upkeep, as well as many gallons of water to keep the plants alive and producing. Then, more fossil fuels and other energy resources were used the harvest and ship the cotton, to a place where it could be manufactured into fabric, using more fossil fuels. After that, it's shipped somewhere else to be made into a specific t-shirt, and then it's shipped to a store, where you will find it. So all that energy and resource usage is not only unsustainable, it also creates pollution, pesticide drift, and water shortages. All to make a t-shirt. Plus, we must consider the quality of the t-shirt. Many new clothes sold today are very poor quality and fall apart easily, for two reasons. Not only is it cheaper to make poorly-made clothing, but it also encourages you to come back and buy a new t-shirt to replace the old one that fell apart. This creates even more of a demand for new, unsustainably produced clothing.
2. Buying new clothes is unethical.
    While we're exploring all the resources, like water and fossil fuels, that go into the production of a cotton t-shirt, we can also look at the people exploited along the way. Were the people working the cotton fields paid a living wage? How about the people who wove the cotton into fabric? Or the people who made the fabric into a t-shirt? Are their jobs easy? Are their shifts manageable and are their hours fair? Depending on where you buy your clothes, the answer to many of these questions is probably going to be a resounding NO. When consumers buy new clothes, they perpetuate the demand for people to fill these unjust jobs. These people are unfairly employed and exploited, and their status is ensured with every new t-shirt we buy. To be fair, there are more companies who do not exploit their workers nowadays than there used to be, but that does little to mitigate the other four reasons for not buying new clothes.

3. Buying new clothes is unaffordable.
    Yes, I am in college, and so I have less money than some. However, even if I had money to spare, why would I spend it on new clothes when I could do better things like buying organic food or donating it or giving it away? Buying new clothes is a cost that many budgets can't accommodate when one is trying to focus on a healthy lifestyle.
4. Buying new clothes is unnecessary.
    There are SO MANY ways to get clothing besides buying it new. I will delve into these methods in an upcoming post, but just know for now that there is an abundance of alternatives to shopping at the mall. Plus, do you really need new clothes? I recently heard about something called the 80/20 rule, which implies that we wear 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time. The rest just kind of hangs out, useless. Though we are encouraged to buy, buy, buy, it is wise to question for a moment if you actually need new clothes. Chances are, the answer is no.
5. Buying new clothes is unoriginal.
    If you buy clothes from the mall you are at a very high risk of having exactly the same shirt as someone else. Clothes obtained from other sources tend to be slightly more difficult to find copies of and are therefore more unique and exciting! They lend new originality to your personal style.

    So, those are my top five reasons not to buy new clothes! I could come up with more, but those are definitely the most important.

    I do want to acknowledge that while this post emphasizes individual actions and blames individual consumers for the environmental and social justice issues I mentioned, I do understand that a lot of larger systemic forces are at play here as well. These forces need to be taken down, both through individual action, such as refusing to purchase new clothes, and collective actions, like protests, boycotts, and massive outreach and educational efforts. I am not trying to blame any individual for the social and environmental injustices caused by today's clothing industry. My only goal with this article is educate and get the word out so that more people may become aware of the issue.

 In an upcoming post, I will show you all how I avoid buying new clothes! I hope that this post has helped some of you and given you some food for thought. If you have any questions or want to further discuss what I've written here, please feel free to email me!
photos: 1, 2

Friday, March 20, 2015

Springtime Magic: A Spell for the Equinox

     Hello my fine young friends. If you haven't heard, today is the vernal equinox! Waddup, springtime? We missed you! In light of this fabulous time of change and renewal, I wanted to share with you all a little spell I am planning on casting this evening. It's also worth noting that as well as being the vernal equinox, today is also the day of a total solar eclipse and super moon. This is a very magical time indeed! 

     The spell I'm sharing with you today has less to do with any formal pagan or Wiccan sect of practice, and more so to do with my own inventions and dabblings. Without further ado:

What You Will Need: 
- A piece of paper
- A flame or fire
- A glass of water
- A delicious food

1. Tear the piece of paper in half. On one half, write down three things you would like to cast off. These may be negative thoughts or beliefs, unhealthy relationships, or bad habits that no longer serve you. 
2. Hold the paper over the flame or toss it in the fire and watch it burn. While you watch, allow your mind to cleanse itself of the things you wrote down. 
3. Allow your mind a short healing break after the paper has completely burnt. Drink a glass of water and allow your mind to rest and wander. 
4. After you finish the glass of water, take the second piece of paper and write down three things you want to create, renew, or manifest. These may be relationships, healthy beliefs or habits, success in work or school. Really think about these things and get specific. 
5. Place the paper where you can see it and eat your yummy food. With each bite, enjoy the taste of the food, and then imagine enjoying one of the things you wrote on the paper. With each bite, focus on a different thing. Imagine how happy and grateful you feel to have whatever that thing is. 
6. After you finish your dessert, put the paper somewhere you will see it and focus on your desires whenever you see it. 

        Spring is a great time for this kind of spell because of the renewing and creative energy at this time. The equinox is also a good time to request and enact change, since the seasons are changing as well. 
       It is important to note the setting you cast your spell in. Try to do it somewhere you feel safe and happy. I like to do spells in my room or a friend's room with candles burning, or in a place in the woods  that I feel particularly connected to. I hope you enjoy the spell! Have a magical springtime!
photos: 1, 2