Boating around the Caribbean

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Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hopping on a cruise ship out of Puerto Rico and cruising around the Caribbean for a week.  During that time, I learned a lot about not only the history of these small islands, but about myself. Nothing says “Cruise’ like getting drunk with your cousins and getting looks from your parents.  

One, I know I am terrified of storms (more so wind than anything else), yet I flew into San Juan while Tropical Storm Bertha was rolling through.  All in all, it just seemed like a rain storm, which is good for everyone (apparently most of the Caribbean is in need of rain).  I am happy to note that I did not freak out once, even when we were flying through the storm.  For me, this is a big deal. 

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The picture above was taken at Isla Verde Beach in San Juan, PR, the day after Tropical Storm Bertha.

Two, I learned what it means to travel in a group.  There were ten people total in our crew. I had to learn that waiting for one another is a large part of traveling with so many people and everyone has different demeanors.  Yes, we were all adults, but it is still necessary to have a leader of the pack.  Patience was definitely needed on this trip, along with a bit of calming down on everyone’s part.  

Three, I learned that I need to put myself out there.  Where ever ‘there’ may be, I need to make an effort to participate in activities that are beyond my comfort level.  I had so much exploring and trying new things.  For example, one night a few of us went to the Chef’s Table.  For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is basically a dinner prepared entirely by the head chef.  You are given foods that do not appear on any cruise ship menu.  There was a tour of the galley (kitchen of a cruise ship) and a seven course meal to follow.  I ate foods like raw tuna, salmon, stuffed dates with chorizo, a salad/soup combo, and pumpkin fudge.  In the beginning, I was not sure if I would enjoy any of the food that Chef prepared, but I went into the dinner with an open mind.  I came out enjoying most courses.  I surprised not only myself, but my family as I am typically a picky/bland eater.

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Four, talking to strangers is rewarding.  I am not a social butterfly (sober), so it was challenging for me to talk to strangers.  With the help of my family, I felt comfortable enough to have multiple conversations with people who I just met.  And I would end up talking to this same group of people throughout the entirety of the cruise.  I even got a picture with the cruise director, which I am pretty proud of.  

Let’s just say, I look forward to more trips that challenge who I am as a person and encourage me to grow.

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The picture about was taken onboard, looking out onto St. Maarten, NA

Until next time, with a less extravagant post, the one and only (and 62 others who share my name),

A.B.

**Photos courtesy of my cousin

I’m hot, sticky, and I don’t want to be touched…

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Ahh, I have no idea where all my readers hale from, but this blogger comes from the heart of the midwest.  At least I think it’s the heart, although it could be an intestine, actually, it doesn’t matter.  All that matters is that it is finally starting to feel like Summer.  As I have said before, I am a teacher, so I fill my Summers with babysitting and tutoring.  This Summer has felt quite different.  It hasn’t felt like Summer at all.  The temperatures have been so very mild that the public pools have to close early.  I have had to wear sweaters at night (as well as pants), and the air conditioning has rarely been used.  Now, some of you may think this is a good thing, but it has been challenging for my brain to accept the fact that not only is my Summer here, but it is almost over.  How depressing.  So, I want to debunk why our weather has been so mild and why is it only starting to warm up now.  

Throughout careful research (I mean about five minutes worth), I have come to the conclusion that it has to do with El Niño.  This means that the surface temperature of the pacific is warmer, therefore affecting many regions across North America.  Typically, we have had hot and humid Summers, but this year, El Niño has had an effect on the climate, by reducing overall temperatures.  Now, I am not saying this is the sole reason, or if I am even correct.  I am just a 20-something who knows a thing or two about the internet. 

No matter, the temperature, I urge you all to go out and explore the wonderful area you live in.  If you are near a coastal city, be aware of those ever pesky hurricanes.  For those of you smarties out there, I do realize that hurricane season officially started June 1st.  Although it seems like between the months of August-October, that is when the most hurricanes hit. 

For now, quit Safari, turn off your computer, and go to some fest, or the zoo, or on a picnic with the ones you love.

I am excited to share that next week, I will have an awesome post coming your way!

Until next time, the one and only (and 62 others who share my name),

A.B.

Cleaning my life

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I’M BACK…! As some of you may have noticed, I took a month hiatus from blogging.  Over the course of my blog, I have realized how challenging it is getting yourself to create a new posting each week.  Maybe it is because I have turned my brain off and would rather mindlessly scroll through the meta picture or stumbleupon.  In any case, I will find time to post once a week.  Scout’s honor.  

A couple of days ago, I cleaned my room.  I know, alert the media, tweet it, post it on facebook.  Although I am an organized and clean person, my room usually shouts otherwise.  Whilst (is this a word?) I was cleaning, I came across some cherished memories that have been forgotten about due to the sheer amount of stuff that always piles up.  

Among my discoveries, countless children’s drawings/paintings, Colorado trail maps, receipts from 2011, birthday cards from who knows when, Christmas presents that were never put away (although used), bobby pins EVERYWHERE, old scooter wheels, salt and pepper shakers, countless gift cards with a balance of $2.32 on them, an American flag, laminating paper, St. Patrick’s day stunna shades, and most importantly, the fact that I do indeed have a desk.

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This got me to thinking why it is important to clean out your life.  Whether that cleaning is physical, such as cleaning your home or mental, clearing your head to move on with your life.  Such that, if your computer is running slow clean out your cookies and browsing history (I usually do this often).  This works the same way as cleaning out your friends on facebook or real life.  Some people are meant to be in your lives forever and if it is meant to be, you will find a way to make things happen.  Recently, a best friend, who I lost contact with about a year ago (although we still text every once in awhile) made a point to plan a get-together.  This gesture, although small, means the world to me in more ways than one.  I have been best friends with this person since 8th grade.  And clearly, we are not ready to clean each other out of our lives.  Being such a practical/logical person made me start to think about how we all grow and evolve, which shows that we can adapt to the ever changing challenges that our lives hand out to us.  Cleaning doesn’t mean that we have to eliminate something from our lives, it just means that we need to polish it in order to remember why it was apart of our lives to begin with (I know, I ended a sentence with a preposition).  

I urge you to do this, look at the space you currently take up, is it clean? Is it organized? Is it exactly the way that you want it to be? You have to live the life that you want to and sometimes you have to work at it to make sure that your life stays on track and that you are following your dreams. 

This post is dedicated to following your dreams and cleaning out everything/one that is going to get in the way of your dreams.  I especially want to congratulate one of my friends, who after years of figuring out what she wants to do, has started pastry school.  I can’t wait to see you on the Food Network.  

Until next time,

The one and only (and 62 others who share my name)

A.B.

My Summer Bucket List

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Every Summer I create one of these things.  Lists are important.  I get it, they are not the end all, but they matter.  They matter because it is satisfying checking something off of a list once you have completed it.  Also, it gives you (and others) the idea that you haven’t been lazy all Summer and you actually enjoy doing things.  So here is my list.  And of course I will update you when I have completed something on this list because otherwise how will you know that I just don’t sit in front of my computer all Summer.  If necessary, I will provide proof in the form of a picture/ticket/something.

1) Go to a major league baseball game (this is only the first item on the list because it was the first event that I had planned for the Summer).  I wish I could have crossed this one off, but unfortunately, the game was postponed due to the fabulous weather we have here in the Midwest.  Although what was neat was that I got to try a new restaurant with some of the greatest coworkers known to man.  Work isn’t work, when you love what you do and working with people that you can get along with both inside school and out is pretty rewarding!

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*This picture was from a vacation I went on and we went to a Cardinals game (no, I am not a Cardinals fan)

2) Go on a picnic (preferably with wine)–I know this is a simple one, but there is something oddly satisfying about packing a lunch and lounging at some park for the afternoon.

3) Go camping.  I tried this one too, but one thing led to another and we ended up staying at a cabin in Small Town, Wisconsin.  Camping with a big group of people, cooking together, and sitting by the campfire at night was a huge part of my childhood and I would like to continue that in my adult years.

4) Go to a festival. No, not some music festival.  A real festival.  Something unique that gets you to enjoy the place where you live.  Spending time with your friends all day, celebrating being young.  Yes, I do realize how cliche this sounds, don’t make fun!

5) Go on a kayaking river trip.  Since I now own a kayak, I would like to take it out.  Although kayaking in a lake is pretty fun too (actually, I got to do that a few times this week), there is nothing like the feeling of having a destination as you kayak.  Having to paddle for miles at a time just to reach a pre-arranged point before the mosquitos start to eat you alive.  If you have any suggestions of river trips, that would be awesome (comment below!)

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6) Go to a drive-in-movie.  I haven’t been to one in recent memory, if ever.  It just sounds so peaceful.  it reminds me of those old 1950s movies (or real life), when drive-ins were the place to go.  Plus, drive-ins usually have a double feature, which sounds even better.  I am a talker during films.  I know what is going on during the whole film, but I like to talk.  A drive-in sounds like the perfect environment for me to do that, without disturbing 50 others

7) Go to Cedar Point.  This one has been on my ‘list’ for a few years now.  And every year when Summer ends, here I am, not being able to say that I have gone to the World’s Greatest Amusement Park.  I have learned that sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and do something because otherwise you will have lived your life under a rock regretting that you didn’t come up with the funds or the time to go on an unforgettable journey with your friends.

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8) Stay out all night.  I have to admit I am a grandma when it comes to my bed time.  Sometimes I forget that I am young and I should enjoy these long evenings that are bound to happen, rather than going home early.  I am hoping that I am able to do this during the summer.  If you have any ideas as to what this includes, let me know.

9) Make a new friend.  I am someone who enjoys hanging out with a wide variety of people, but it is difficult for me to put myself out ‘there’ and get to know people beyond my immediate friend group.  When it comes to meeting new people, I’m shy, it takes awhile for me to warm up to someone, but it is something that I am working on.  It is one of the only parts of my personality that I want to change.  I only have a few regrets in my life (I’ll talk about those another time), but they all have to do with not putting myself out ‘there’ and fighting for what my heart wants.  I over think things, I worry, therefore it’s hard for me to make a decision without thinking about it for at least a week.

10) Go somewhere new.  I don’t like change, but I have been starting to think that my friends and I are stuck in a rut.  Luckily, a few days ago, I forced myself and my friends to go to this lake bar in Wisconsin and it was just so satisfying.  Again, it all goes back to me and my over thinking.

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Therefore, starting now, I am going to put myself out there and make this my Summer.

Oh and a shout to the bucket list blogger for giving me the inspiration to put my thoughts on paper (or a blog) to make them real and hold myself accountable!

Fun fact: July is the month where most ice cream is sold in the US. That’s why it’s National Ice Cream Month. Americans eat about 5.5 gallons of ice cream per year on average.

Until next time, the one and only (and 62 others who share my name),

A.B.

Just let me work…

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Over. And over. And over. Andover. Anover. Anober. Anoberk. And no break. The slide is never ending and for some, they have a difficult time jumping off. As you may know, I work in a school, therefore, my work for the ‘school’ year is almost done (at least for a little while). Although there are so many people who are not in education and get a measly two weeks of vacation per year, their bosses look down upon them even if they want to take one day off. Now, I don’t get it. In general, Americans are hard working and companies all over the Nation expect that hard work to continue 365. Or it is the fear that is associated with losing your job because you take your vacation days? Whatever it may be, we are all to blame. Honestly, this annoys me.

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There are two countries that legally have to give about five weeks of paid time off per year. Those countries are Portugal and Austria.  Now, some of you may be complaining because you only take seven days out of the three-hundred and sixty-five to do something mundane, like get your car fixed. There is something to say about New Zealand, Italy, Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, Portugal, and Austria, who all get over 30 days of paid vacation per year. Do you think those workers are happier? Who knows. Do they work harder? Who knows. Are they less stressed? Well, they should be. I just think living in a place in which people and their well-being are valued would be such a change of pace. I mean, I know that I haven’t been working for long, but I know plenty of people who are and they are burned out. I feel for them. I feel for you.

Now when I say that they (who are they?) legally have to give that amount of paid vacation, I mean it. The government mandates it.  And do you want to know what is even worst? The United States government does not make paid vacation a requirement for any company in America. Meaning, any vacation that you do get is up to that specific company. This means that if you complain to  everyone that you don’t get any vacation, no one will listen or care.

And if you are lucky to get the weekends off of ‘work’, does that mean that you are off of work  No. When was the last time that you did nothing all day? You just hung around with family, had a picnic, went bowling, went camping, did a craft, read for fun, went for a bike ride, or did anything that does not relate to chores or errands. I’m sure you are grabbing at strings because you can’t honestly answer that question.

This Summer I urge you to take a vacation or do something for yourself, something you enjoy. Even if you can’t get off of work, or take a vacation day, find the time, make the time, to enjoy your time on Earth. Too many people are taken too early, so it just makes me appreciate everyday that I am blessed with.

During my Summer, I feel fortunate to be taking a few vacations and just being present. Actually, I am going to my favorite place in the World (one of them). I am going to Wisconsin  Yeah, you read that right, Wisconsin. It is not the most elegant place, it’s not the prettiest place, it’s just a place where I would spend my Summers and make memories with the ones that I love.  It is what we call “Up North”.  The quote below encompasses the true meaning of “Up North”.  And it doesn’t matter if your “Up North” is actually South or West.  All that matters is the feeling that you get when you arrive cannot be compared to anything else. It is a place where you can be yourself, do nothing, enjoy nature, and get away from the hustle of the city. So, get out there, turn your phone off, quit reading my blog (only for the week :D), put the controller down, and let your email just sit there. Tell me how you enjoy ‘getting away’, what is something that you plan on doing this Summer even if it will be challenging to work out with everything going on in your life at the moment? Where is your “Up North”?

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Fact is that Americans work about 1,700 hours per year.

In the meantime, since you are probably not going to get a day off anytime soon, read this blog. This is a blogger who posts a ridiculous amount of memes. They are actually pretty funny. And you all know how I feel about memes. I love them, a lot. Just make sure when you check it out that your boss doesn’t catch you.

Until next time,

The one and only (and 62 others who share my name),

A.B.

 

 

Summer means…

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Summer is ALMOST here! Well, for some of us.  I know that technically Summer doesn’t begin until June 21st, but I also know that some of you are either teachers, students, or free-loaders (in which case, Summer has already arrived for you). I am not particularly talking about the Summer Solstice, I am more talking about the feeling you get when it’s summertime, no matter what profession you are in.

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Summer is a lifestyle, a mentality, a rhythm that controls your every movement.  And what is even better is that Summer means something different to everyone.  What does it mean to me (awe, that is so thoughtful of you to ask)?

Summer means…kayaking, homemade ice cream, killing mosquitos on your leg, bonfires, staying up until 2 am talking on the trampoline, country music, impromptu dance parties, barbecues, beach time, exploring the City, festivals, hula shows, picnics with the little ones, laying out reading Harry Potter, boat trips, Tropical Sno, baseball games, humidity, Zac Brown Band, the scent of freshly mowed grass, tractor pulls, bike rides, cute sandals, craft days, odd tan lines, bees swarming, complaining about the heat, torrential downpours, family vacations, heat lightning, droughts, camping trips, fresh watermelon, olympics (every four years), crocs, sunburns, ghost in the graveyard, blooming flowers, sand getting EVERYWHERE, s’mores, bare feet, lake days, state fairs, stars radiating across the night sky, cicadas buzzing, drinking with your family, catching lightning bugs, sleepovers, scooters, curly hair, weddings, prepping for the next school year, ice cream trucks, cards against humanity, sundresses, Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, fitting into your swimsuit, and seeing everyone come out to play after a Winter of hibernation!

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Although Summer is not my favorite season, I love how active I can be during the summer.  Some of my most memorable memories (does that sound weird?) have been during this season. My goal is to make sure that I hit every single one of my definitions of Summer and hopefully add new ones.  Although it does not matter what you do as long as you are with the ones that you love and have fun doing it.  So, start planning, or be spontaneous (your choice, however you roll), but get out there and enjoy it!  What does Summer mean to you?

Fact of the Day: Popsicles were invented by a boy named Frank Epperson in 1905. He accidently left a mixture of powdered soda and water outside overnight and it froze. The next day he came outside find a popsicle and this frozen treat soon became a big hit.”

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And go and check out this blogger.  He incorporate music and artwork into his blogs.  He brings up issues that hit close to his community, and he is clearly making a difference.

Until next time,

The one and only and 62 others who share my name,

A.B.

 

Coke or Pepsi? Make a decision already

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Do you know how big of a decision this is?  You have to choose between two very beloved American products.  I mean, sure they both seem like they are the same, but they are not.  And since I think it is a big deal, I am going to tell you some of my favorite foods/products and what brands they need to be.  I’m picky, I get it, but I have a right to be.  I know all of you have your opinions, which I would love to hear about at a later time (much later time), but in the mean time, I am going to make some very important decisions.

Coke or Pepsi? COKE all the way, Pepsi is way too sweet for me and it has an odd after taste.  Coke is smooth from the moment it hits your lips.  So, when a waiter/waitress asks if Pepsi is okay, when I clearly asked for Coke, it is not.  I will just have water, thank you very much, unless you want to run out to a decent establishment and get me a fountain coke. Oh and Coke has better commercials than Pepsi.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnQ_CwvIoKk

Miracle Whip or Mayo? Umm…MAYO.  At least I know what it is made out of, eggs and oil.  Miracle Whip has this tangy yogurt like consistency and the flavor seems to stay in your mouth too long.  And to go even further, Hellmann’s mayo trumps all.  I mean Hellmann’s hasn’t let me down from the beginning.

Sierra Mist or Sprite? Sierra Mist.  It’s more refreshing, it tastes less sugary, crisp, and natural. Sprite seems more like a syrup and I have a hard time getting it down.

Walmart or Target? Target, hands down.  Walmart may have better prices, but the crowds, and various characters just turn me off from the whole place.  And the people there are rude.  I mean, they get in your way, they don’t apologize, and cut you off, such great people.  At least at Target, I know it will be a relaxing trip, where people won’t ram into you as they fight for a spot in line.

Tide or Gain? Gain.  Now, I have only ever used Tide a few times.  Maybe it is because I was raised with Gain, so using anything else feels like a betrayal, but I am not sure.  Gain seems to get the stains out, not leave a residue, and smells refreshing even a few days after you wash it.

Plochman’s or French’s? TIE.  I love mustard and I will put it on anything.  I feel like French’s is a better all purpose yellow mustard, whereas Plochman’s is perfect for the Summer bbq.  It just works on hot dogs, burgers (which I don’t eat), and bratwurst.  But please, don’t buy me generic.  I can taste the difference and I would rather pay the extra money for name brand.  Yes, I am a proud mustard snob.

Dannon or Yoplait? Dannon. I don’t eat a lot of yogurt, but when I do, I don’t need fancy flavors.  Yoplait now has margarita and boston creme pie flavor, no thank you.  I just want all natural, yogurt, that promotes good digestion.  It is yogurt, not a dessert. Yeesh

A&W or Barqs? That one is easy, BARQs. It’s rooty, flavorful, and it’s a coke product. Nuff’ said.

Now you may be wondering why I am making a blog post about it.  Well, it’s because I don’t think I have ever told anyone besides my immediate family.  The point of me writing this blog is to share my knowledge and opinions with the internet (and I am hoping real people too). When you read someone’s blog, you get to know who they are.  And I want you all to know who I am.  If you have any more brands that you want me to debunk, comment below.  If you want to share with me your own opinion, I am happy to listen (or read).

Did you know? “Coca-Cola is the second most widely known understood term in the world, after the word ‘ok’. “

Oh and go check out this blog that I am following. It is genuinely funny and the blogger is a teacher, so we have something in common!

Until next time, the one and only and 62 others who share my name,

A.B.