48 Hours In Canada

After years obsessing over Canada, I finally got to visit the Great White North. I gotta say it lived up to the hype.


There is nothing like a 5 am flight to start your vacation off right. We had a quick hour flight to Dallas and then a connecting flight to Seattle. We landed just after 10 and checked into Royal Caribbean for our 4 day Cruise of British Columbia. The thing about being 18 on a Canadian cruise is that there isn’t much to do and a majority of the boat’s population is over 65. On my previous cruise almost 7 years ago, most of my time was spent in the middle school aged clubhouse. Being a “legal” adult means we couldn’t go to the teenage club. My best friend who went with me and I spent the first day and a half exploring the boat. Since we were in international waters we did things that we typically wouldn’t be able to do back home, such as gambling and going to bars (no drinking though). On our day at sea, we hung out with some cool senior citizens at the trivia contest and tried to learn how to make sushi.


Our first port was to Nanaimo, BC. We took a 45-minute scenic bus ride to Cathedral Grove.

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The trails we hiked there reminded me of Endor from Star Wars, and we expected Ewoks to jump out of the trees. It was a little muddy that day, but the fresh air and lush green life made up for it.

From there we drove to the Coombs Village. The shopping was subpar; it was comparable to gift shops located in the middle of Arkansas. Back in town, I indulged in the Canadian delicacy of Tim Hortons and also tried my first true Poutine and Nanaimo Bar.

The next day we stopped in Victoria, BC, and I instantly fell in love with the city.

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Though it’s a few years away, I’ve already started searching around for grad school where I can get my doctorate degree. Victoria offers my program and is actually cheaper than colleges in my own state that offer the program. I’m not a fan of the summer weather we have in the Midwest, and Pacific Northwest would offer me cool weather year round. During the time we were there it was in the 60s, while at home it was in the high 80s.

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Our tour from the day started at the Fisherman’s Wharf. Us and 50 other people crowded onto a boat looking for whales. If I’m remembering right, the ones in the photos below were humpback whales on their way up to Alaska. Also, we saw sea lions, seals, a few eagles, and a sea otter.

Afterwards, we took a river taxi to Government Street. We hit up Roots and got some fun Canadian merch.


Canada was all I hoped it to be and more. I’m already planning my next trip! It wasn’t a high energy trip like years before, and I liked it that way. The past few weeks leading up to the trip were crazy because I was preparing for finals and graduation. Now I have a few weeks off before I start summer classes. In the following couple weeks, keep an eye out my recipes I’ll be posting. I’ll be recreating dishes I had while on my trip.


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Pesto Italian Chicken Sandwich

This might be the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten. I’m not even joking. While coming up with recipes for this month, I thought to myself what would be my ultimate sandwich. Of course, it had to have bacon on it, and from there I thought chicken would complement the pork the best.  Everything else just fell into place.

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound (About 4 breasts)  Chicken Breast
  • 1 16 oz bottle Italian Dressing
  • 12 strips Bacon
  • 2 large ripe Tomatoes
  • 12 slices Sourdough
  • 12 slices Mozzarella Cheese
  • ⅓ cup Pesto
  • ½ cup Olive Oil

Directions

  1. In a ziplock bag, allow the chicken to marinate overnight in the whole bottle of Italian dressing.
  2. After at least 8 hours of marinating, take out the chicken and cook it on the grill  or in the oven. Once it’s cooked through, cut it into small pieces. At the same time cook the bacon until it’s crisp.
  3. If you have a panini maker, plug it in at this time so it can preheat, or bring a frying pan to a medium heat.
  4. Slice the tomatoes into the desired thickness.  Personally, I like to slice my tomatoes very thin.
  5. You can assemble this however you want, but this worked best for me. I used a cooking brush to coat one side of the slices of sourdough bread with olive oil. Then I flipped one slice over and spread on some pesto. On top of that, I put a layer of chicken and the first slice of mozzarella. Next, I put two pieces of bacon on each sandwich and the second slice of cheese. Finally, I added some tomatoes and put on another slice of bread that was oil side up.
  6. Transport the sandwich into either the pan or panini maker, and cook it until golden brown.

 

Coming of Age

Another chapter of my life has ended because I’m graduated from high school! Just like how graduation commencement is a rite of passage into adulthood, coming of age films look at the transition from youth to adulthood. I thought I’d share with you a list of my favorite coming of age films of all time.

The Spectacular Now

The Spectacular Now

Superbad

Superbad

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Clueless

Clueless

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom.png

Almost Famous

Almost Famous

Sing Street

Sing Street

The Edge of Seventeen

The Edge of Seventeen.png

Easy A

Easy A

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

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Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Mean Girls

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Rushmore

Rushmore

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

 

The Goonies

The Goonies

The Graduate

The Graduate.jpg

She’s All That

She_s All That

Stand By Me

Stand By Me

Heathers

Heathers

Napoleon Dynamite

Napoleon Dynamite

October Sky

October Sky.jpg

 

Queso Blanco Mac & Cheese

For every food day, potluck, and holiday, you need to have a signature dish to bring. This might be more of a cold weather meal, but you can’t go wrong with mac and cheese (unless you’re lactose intolerant). I came up with this recipe late one night when I had to bring lunch for my whole class and ended up just combining a few things I had in my pantry. I like to think this is just a basic mac & cheese recipe because you can build off of it. You can switch up the cheeses or maybe try adding in other seasonings.

Ingredients

  • 32 oz block Queso Blanco Cheese (Velveeta)
  • 2 lbs Macaroni Noodles (two boxes)
  • 1 cup Colby-Jack Cheese, Shredded
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 2 teaspoons Pepper
  • ½ teaspoon Salt

Directions

  1. Bring a big pot of water to a boil, and cook the noodles according to the package. Drain the water and set to the side.
  2. In a crockpot, add in the queso blanco, colby-jack, milk, pepper, and salt. Allow this to cook on a low heat for two hours.
  3. After two hours, stir in the noodles and let this cook for two more hours.
  4. If it’s too thick, add in an extra ¼ cup of milk. If it’s too thin, add in ¼ cup of colby-jack cheese.

Is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 better than the original?

Looking at Marvel’s previous track record of their sequels have either been vast improvements from the first one or absolute garbage. Like most of the world, I was a huge fan of the first Guardians of the Galaxy and was stoked for the sequel that came out last weekend. The problem I had going into it was that I had no clue what it even was about. From the marketing, all I knew was that Peter/Star Lord’s father was going to be introduced. I had a fun time with Vol. 2 and was excited to see the team again; but was it better than the first one?

 

The main improvement from the first one is the story. Vol. 2 is heavily a character driven film, and the cast has real chemistry. The core theme is family and what family is to each of us. It takes place a few months after the first film, and the team has formed their own little family. Front and center we see the relationship between Peter, his father Ego, and Peter’s adopted father Yondu. After Ego finds Peter, he promises him answers, such as why he was able to survive holding an infinity stone and why he didn’t die when he was in space. The team gets separated, and we discover that Ego is a Celestial, a god-like entity. Ego tells Peter if he stays with him he will teach him to control the universe. As expected, it’s a trap, and Peter’s father turns on him. In the first film we saw Ego had a deal with Yondu to deliver Peter to him once his mother died. This time we learn Yondu knew what he would do with him, so he kidnapped Peter and raised himself with the Ravagers. In the final battle, Peter learns all of this and the team kills Ego. In the process, Yondu dies in order to save Peter. At his funeral, Peter admits that while growing up, he created in his mind what he wanted his father to be like. Though that was directly based on his childhood hero, David Hasselhoff, it also describes his true father Yondu.

 

In the opening scene, the Guardians protect batteries from an interdimensional monster in exchange for Gamora’s sister, Nebula. After the events of the first film, Nebula is dead set on going after everyone who has ever hurt her. This includes Gamora, who their adopted father, Thanos, forced to fight every day. Whenever Gamora won, Thanos would remove part of Nebula’s body and replace it with cybernetics. Multiple times in the film, Nebula tries to kill her sister, but by the end, Nebula comes to terms with everything that had happened because Thanos made her do it. Nebula makes up with her sister and leaves her, while the Guardians head out to find and kill Thanos.

 

The first film introduced us to the group of misfits and established the intergalactic realm in the cinematic universe. From a storytelling point of view, Vol. 2 is a better narrative. The plot isn’t trying to set up the Infinity War films either. Personally, I feel like these franchises are trying to shoehorn the next film into these kind of movies so they can set up the next one. If done properly, it can be an Easter egg to the fans, but most of the time it can takeover the film.

 

This time around it has a far superior and complex villain that has a clear motive. This has been an issue that has been showing up in a lot of Marvel films. As the Marvel universe roster continues to expand, it has become important to balance the characters. What I mean by this is that in team films such as the X-Men and Avengers films you sometimes don’t get balanced screen time between the characters. Vol. 2 does this perfectly, like when the team is split up, and their subplots all come together in the end. One of my favorite characters in the first film was Drax. Actor Dave Bautista gives the best comedic performances out of the team this time and gets a lot more screen time. I really fear with the 20+ heroes that are going to be in Infinity War that it’s going to feel crowded.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’s style is different too. Though the first film was colorful, this film sticks to a neon-based palette for the majority of the time. When they travel to different planets, it changes too. Once again director James Gunn kills it with the soundtrack. The first movie’s songs are more mainstream 70s and 80s classics, but I think I prefer the new soundtrack more. Vol. 2 also has Fleetwood Mac, and you can’t go wrong with Fleetwood Mac.  

 

The only reason why I wouldn’t rank Vol. 2 higher than the first one is that it can’t be a standalone movie. You need to watch the first one before you watch this one. Below, I’ll put my current rankings for all the MCU films just to show you where it stands compared to the rest.

 

  1. Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier
  2. Captain America 3: Civil War
  3. Guardians of the Galaxy
  4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.
  5. Iron Man
  6. The Avengers
  7. Ant Man
  8. Captain America: The First Avenger
  9. Avengers 2: Age of Ultron
  10. Doctor Strange
  11. Iron Man 3
  12. Thor
  13. The Incredible Hulk
  14. Iron Man 2
  15. Thor 2: The Dark World

Steak Tacos

Mexican food comes in many forms, but tacos seem to be the granddaddy of all them. You don’t need a fork to eat them, and they are relatively easy to make. These steak tacos might become my go-to recipe for taco Tuesday.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds of Flank or Flat style Steak (almost any cut of beef will work)
  • 3 Limes
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Orange
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Pepper
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro
  • ¼ cup Olive Oil
  • 10 corn or flour tortillas
  • other toppings

Directions 

  1. Juice the lemon, limes, and orange into a bowl. Then chop up the oregano and cilantro. Add the juice and herbs in a large ziplock bag.
  2. Now combine the salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, and olive oil to the bag. Zip up the ziplock bag, and shake it up to combine the ingredients. From there add in the steak, and allow this to marinade overnight.
  3. The next evening or at least 12 hours later, fire up the grill. Cook the steak to your preference of being done, and allow it to rest for 7 minutes.
  4. Be careful cutting the meat into 1/2 inch strips because it’s still going to be hot. Serve on tortillas and add any other toppings such as lettuce, sour cream, pico de gallo, ex.

A Letter To Myself Four Years Ago

In one week I will be graduating high school. During the next four years you finally decide what you want to do with your life. Going into sophomore year, you will realize that getting a marketing major sounds boring. Soon enough you will find out there’s a world out there that needs to be explored, and there’s more to life than just Kansas. Prepare for this wild ride you’re about to embark on because high school will throw you through the ringer.

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You thought things couldn’t get better than what they were like in 2013; you’ve already seen The Avengers (aka the greatest movie of all time) and Matt Smith was the Doctor. I hate to break it to you, but rewatching the Avengers kind of sucks now. Also, in a few short months Matt Smith will announce he’s quitting Doctor Who, and his replacement makes you stop watching the show entirely. Besides our current national government, 2017 is pretty awesome. There’s hoverboards and there’s a new Star Wars film.

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Your musical taste will change completely and it’s for the best. Trust me when I say stop listening to Katy Perry; her music today is total garbage. Please apologize to your best friend for calling Lady Gaga untalented. Literally, she’s a triple threat now and her super bowl performance brought you to tears. Then you discovered classic rock isn’t just for old people. Bands like Fleetwood Mac, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Queen will be your anthems during your junior and senior years.

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Now we have to talk about your fears. Failure is inevitable, and you can’t win everything. Though we are a type A personality and an extreme micro-manager, we can’t control everything in our life. You can give it your all and still be not enough, but that’s just life. Other times you will give no effort, and that will reflect in your grades and personal life. Later on, you will come to love driving. It’s a  freedom that allows you to create experiences with your friends that will stick with you forever. Finally, don’t waste your time trying to impress people, in particular guys. You’re just wasting your time. Luckily, you fall in love with a 5-pound yorkie named Skipper.

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Remember to study hard, but don’t expect to get straight A’s. As I am yourself from the future, I should encourage you to study hard, but I know that’s not going to happen. We love procrastinating too much. Still take school seriously, but don’t forget it’s just high school. We aren’t going to an Ivy League college, and WSU will take you if you don’t have a 4.0.

High school will be a new start for you. You will get involved with many clubs and activities that will shape who you are. Through Color Guard, you will learn what it is to be a leader, and it isn’t always about getting a good score. You also learn how to deal with all different of types of people and how to keep peace in the workplace. Somehow you get involved in journalism too. You become a better writer and learned kids are baby goats. (It’s an inside joke.) In newspaper, you will get the chance to travel to Indianapolis and have the best week of your life.

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So here you are, about to enter high school. You are scared of graduating because you know that you will have to grow up after you leave. News flash! You have seven more years of college following high school, and you should be more afraid of student debt. I think you’d be proud of me. I’m going into college as a second-semester sophomore, and I own Star Wars bedsheets. The road ahead of you will be the time of your life, and go ahead and make a few mistakes. Just remember to be true to yourself and everything will be alright.   

Strawberry Cilantro Salsa

Nothing is better than fresh salsa, but our fresh tomatoes aren’t quite ready to be eaten. Luckily, strawberries are perfectly ripe this time of the year.

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound of Strawberries
  • 1 Lime
  • 3 tablespoons Cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon

Directions

  1. Prepare the strawberries by cleaning them with water and cutting off their tops, then dice them finely. Also, chop up the fresh cilantro.
  2. Zest the whole lime into a bowl. Cut it in half and add one-half of its juice into the bowl.
  3. In the bowl, combine strawberries, cilantro, sugar, vinegar, and cinnamon. Stir, and serve with tortilla or pita chips.

April Favorites

April is my favorite month of the year. I’m not sure why, but I think it has to do with something involving the weather. It’s not too hot, not too cold, and all you need is a light jacket. (If you understand that reference, you’re awesome.) Like every other month, I discover a new bunch of monthly favorites.

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Kindle Fire Tablet

{https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Fire-7-Inch-Tablet-8GB/dp/B00TSUGXKE}

I’ve recently sold off my Wii U that I solely used for watching Amazon Prime and Netflix. I decided to test out one of Amazon’s tablets. Though I haven’t played around with it, it works seamlessly while I stream shows. Originally I was getting the 8GB version, but now that you can download shows on Netflix, it was a smart choice to get double the storage for an extra $20. Unlike the iPad, it also has external storage and charges fast.

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Teardrop Ear Jackets

{http://www.target.com/p/sugarfix-by-baublebar-153-teardrop-ear-jackets/-/A-52231838}
Ever since I’ve discovered Baublebar, I’ve been obsessed with the jewelry. The only downside is that it’s overpriced for the quality of it. When I found out that Baublebar was teaming up with Target, I must say I was over the moon with excitement. From the collection, my favorite piece is the teardrop ear jackets, but the beaded tassel earrings are a close second.

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Aussie 3 Minutes Miracle Moist

{https://www.amazon.com/Aussie-Minute-Miracle-Moist-Conditioner/dp/B000GCW1P4}

Naturally, I have dry hair and dying it and hot tools don’t help. I’ve been using Aussie 3 Minutes Miracle Moist mask on and off for the past two years, but I finally repurchased it this month. Though nothing replaces a good haircut to get rid of split ends, using this twice a week has done wonders to my hair.

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Professional Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System

{http://www.ulta.com/professional-pro-x-advanced-cleansing-system?productId=xlsImpprod3000319}
This month I’ve been focusing more on my skin so that it looks nice for upcoming events. I use this brush in combination with Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Foaming Scrub Pink Grapefruit and Olay Age Defying Classic Cleanser. This model is really similar to the Clarisonic Cleansing Brush, but it’s way more affordable. Personally, I feel like it cleans deeper than any normal washcloth or cleaning device can.

French Toast 

I have a love-hate relationship with french toast. Sometimes it comes out too eggy, and other times it’s too dry. This recipe is amazing because it finds a good medium between the two. The flour added to the batter gives it a nice crust on the outside as well. Ingredients  

  • 4 large Eggs
  • 2/3 cup Milk
  • 
1/3 cup Flour
  • 
1/3 cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 8 slices Texas Toast Bread
  • 2 tablespoons Butter

Directions

  1. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir well to combine.
  2. Now add in the remaining ingredients: eggs, milk, and vanilla. Whisk until incorporated and the eggs are beaten. 
  3. Either with a frying pan or on an electric flat top griddle on medium heat, add the butter to the surface so it can melt. 
  4. Dunk the bread into the mixture on both sides, then place them down on the hot surface. 
  5. Allow them to cook for about 2 – 3 minutes on each side or until slightly browned and cooked.