Madrid Madrid Madrid-Oh Yes We Did

 We have finally arrived in Madrid! After a 3 hour train ride, which was INCREDILY relaxing, especially since we caught it with three minutes to spare, we easily found our Airbnb with an easy metro ride from the train station. We are located right in the middle of Sol, which is perfect, because nearly everything is in walking distance. We don’t have to take the metro anywhere!

This day of travel was also pretty special as it was my 22ndbirthday, and to make it even more special my friends from home, who are also trekking around Europe changed their plans so that we would all be in Madrid at the same time, I am so lucky!  

We spent the afternoon, once we settled in, at the Retiro Parque, which is a huge and gorgeously vegetated park in Madrid, there are series of tree shaded path ways, that make it easy to wander in for hours. 

Next we stopped at the Prado Museum, during its open free hours. A line forms off to the side where everyone who is seeking free entry waits until 6:00, if you are going to try this, I recommend getting there atleast half an hour early. We got in just fine, however if it is too crowded they may turn people away. We explored this art museum, that is on the same level of cultural and historical importance as the Louvre. We came across works of Rafael and Goya, with Emily and Katy as well who met us in line.

Afterwards we went to a restaurant suggested by a local, another Emily, in case you are counting there are now three in our group. (oh my!) Emily went to Bonaventure and graduated last year, and quite adventurously moved to Madrid and currently teaches English. This dive bar, El Tigre, so far, has been the highlight of the trip, atleast in terms of food for me. When we arrived we ordered mojitos and nearly instantly they handed us 8 platters of food. We assumed they were taking advantage of the fact that we clearly had no idea what was going on. But these platters of bread with cheeses, ham, and quiche, along with croquettes, which are fried mashed potatoes with ham, were incredibly delicious. We had two rounds of platters and mojitos/sangria for 60 euros total, A STEAL, in my broken college grad opinion. After we trekked in typical Spanish fashion around 10:30 PM to another outdoor bar, we enjoyed Sangria and a beautiful sunset overlooking Madrid. I don’t know many people who get to share their birthdays with all their friends around, and even more so all the way across the world, all I have to say is THANK YOU! 

We allowed ourselves a late morning given our late night, and we started the next day with a stop in Mercada San Miguel, where we enjoyed fresh baguettes topped with jamon, Madrid’s specialty of cured ham, not sure what makes it special but it definitely is! This market is smaller than Barcelonas, and each vendor has rank on a specialty making it a little less overwhelming. Next we entered the Cathedral of Barcelona, which had some of the most ornate and unique designs that we have seen thus far. Even with the typical high pillars and tall ceilings of a cathedral, there was a clear Spanish influence in the décor, in that the ceiling had patterns of painted stripes and primary colors.

Next we toured the Royal Palace (here we were able to get a student rate, so always make sure you check-we saved 6 euros!) Although it isn’t really used anymore due to how ginormous it is, with over 3,000 rooms, it is a definitely a site to see. We only toured a total of 30 rooms and it took atleast 1.5 hours if that’s any indication of its size. The audio guide gave great insight into pieces that would have gone overlooked to the naked eye. Most rulers, although they enjoyed its beauty, said that it was far too large to live in because of the cost and creepy fear of too much ground to keep secure, and one even mentioned that every time his soup arrived it would be too cold because it took too long to come, therefore now it is only really used for special occasions, most often welcoming ambassadors and royal ceremonies and dinners. 

After viewing a few more landmarks to get out of the heat, we joined a free tour to learn about the history and many myths of the city. My favorite was that of the Peeping Tom, a golden statue which looks over ruins of one of the first churches. If you touch the left of his butt you will receive 7 years good fortune, the right 7 years of happiness and luck, scratch his back? You would have an amazing time in Madrid, and if you gave him a hug, you would return, obviously we did all 4!

We then joined Emily and Katy for dinner at the Big Banh, a restaurant that does Vietnamese twist on bocadellas, which are simply Spanish sandwiches which involve loaves of baguette and a variety of fillings. Of course we had more sangria and gelato for desert. 

Madrid thus far has been one of my favorites visits, as the atmosphere is clearly far more relaxed than anywhere I have visited. Everyone really minds their own business and just goes about there day. Emily who lives there mentioned how it is very different from American life in that people take their time to enjoy company, and aren’t very concerned with time. Maybe this would be a great place for me since I am often late?

On Wednesday it was time to travel to Granada, even more south Spain. However, we could not leave without trying the classic breakfast of churros and chocolate, and even better, at the oldest establishment where they are served – San Gines. It was everything you would dream that dessert for breakfast would be. For 4 euros (around $4) you received a cup of ‘hot chocolate’ which was literally a cup of melted chocolate, and 6 churros, again I could get used to this. It was incredibly delicious together and each piece by itself. It is tradition to drink the rest of the chocolate, but even with a sweeth tooth as large as mine, this was a struggle. 

This breakfast was absolutely the chaos of making our Granada train with 3 minutes to spare, we said this going to be an adventure right?

Say tuned…

 

 

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Dancing Ed Sheeran like in the streets of Barcelona, with churro in hand 💃🏼

It is quite a feat to do an entire city, nonetheless in a foreign land, within a mere two days but we nearly did! With many ups and downs, as any adventure will have, Barcelona was incredibly beautiful. We experienced a mix of culture from ages ago to its busy city streets. It is a quite complex different from America, you can find yourself wandering through a park to a gorgeous castle, and have no idea why it’s there-as we did while in Barcelona. We effectively decided it would be someone’s future home because why not?! These older countries have cultures dating back thousands of years which offer rich culture and architecture that surrounds you everyday-aren’t we so spoiled!

Upon our Barcelona arrival we stayed up for a straight 30 hours (trust us the pain is worth the time adjustment) we wandered the street of Las Ramblas, a street filled with merchants and restaurants alike – open and breezy under arches of green trees. Nearby was La Boqueria, a tented market that offered fresh stands of everything from fresh fruits and seeds to meats and fish- along with an enchanting fishy aroma. Here we had our own pink drink-that could rival Starbucks -which was simply a pittaya and coconut smoothie, and incredibly delicious. 
We had a dinner recommended by our Airbnb host that consisted of paella,  a traditional Spanish dish or rice mixed with meats or veggies and a dish of blackbnoodles and calamari-they are black because of squid ink, heavy teeth brushing ensued after.  

Saturday we began at the Segrada Familia, a national monument that has been in the works for 200 years and is expected to be complete in 2026 – better late than never? Inside the audio guide,highly recommend, gives you great insight into the little pieces of architectural mastery that would go unnoticed to the naked eye-as the original plan was designed by Gaudi, a legend for his attention to detail and structural influence from nature. The pillars within represented the trees of nature holding up and attesting to the power of the natural world. The sun shined brightly within and directly onto a hoisted crucifix which painted the church in a beautiful light and as Gaudi said- the sun is the greatest painter- and it truly is-don’t you think-, don’t we experience natural art everyday?

We then visited a home designed by this creative man which was equally impressive. With nearly no straight lines within- each piece had meaning and relation to nature. Such as skylights in the shape of tortoise shells and ceiling beams that saved space but also respresented the ribs of animals. 

We spent the next few hours exploring and wandering through the park-where we stumbled upon that previously mentioned castle that simply was there to be beautiful.  

The Gothic Square welcomed us for dinner which was delicious with Sangria and prosciutto pizza. 

Our Sunday we began as every other day with our friends at Roma Cafe-what great pals as they helped us practice our Spanish in all of its brokenness. The consistent breakfast of a cappuccino and a croissant never disappointed. 

We grabbed the metro, which thus far has been the simplest navigation in any forgein country that I have thus experienced (and we are very grateful for that) to the train station. 

From here we took a one hour train ride to Montserrat which is a monastery tucked in the Spanish mountains- reached either by cable care or tram or for the very adventurous, a steep hike. It makes you wonder how they picked this place and how they even got up there to build it! Either way, to our surprise it was more of small city full of history and beautiful architecture and a breathtaking view of the Spanish countryside.

On our return home our wandering brought us to tour the Barcelona Cathedral which was perhaps the greatest surprise of beauty. Construction began in 1200-and here it still stands. With many side chapels and ceilings so high, it makes you feel closer to heaven. Even more so when you step outside to the Cloister, which makes you wonder if you stepped into a piece of paradise. Tall palm trees tower in open air, over clear fountain water and geese comfortably squawk around, and they definitely seem to live the life. 

We finished our last Barcelona night in a great tapas bar which served us the traditional Spanish way. Each guest in your party took turns choosing a round of tapas from the bar buffet and each memeber gets to the try them. It’s a great way to try it all and slow down the pace of a busy busy day. Coupled with mojitos and a cleansing shot at the end of the meal, we were happily content. We rightfully finished our night with dulce de leche filled churros. 
The next day brought another year of life for me and a 3 hour train ride to Madrid-where another city to be explored awaits. 

A Few Final Laps

I remember standing outside the silver door of the Reilly Center and looking through the square hole into the pool area. The quaint pool was surrounded with walls which were hung with ‘worn’ record boards. I took pictures and talked to my mom about how cool it would be to be a Division I swimmer. In those moments I never really envisioned myself in that pool, swimming and competing.

Later I talked to the coach at the time about my potential of becoming a part of the Saint Bonaventure Women’s swim team, and how we could revisit the possibility once I stepped on campus as a real Bona Wolf come September. And the time came and I remembered, and perhaps he did not, but nonetheless with some pleading and promising to swim any event that we needed, I found myself a member of the team. I didn’t expect anything really, quite honestly I don’t think I even knew what I was getting into.

It was maybe a step above the idea that people had when Elle Woods applied to Harvard, do you think she just woke up one day and said, I think Ill go to law school today!

But what I was getting into was 4 years of really hard work. Of staying late over breaks, having a consistent answer of ‘no, I can’t go out tonight, we have practice’, a handful of punishment practices, to having frozen hair because you go to school in the tundra, to having achey muscles that cause some discomfort sleeping and to permanently having water clogged in your ears.

But I was also getting into, having 20 really weird, but fun best friends. To always having a place to sit in the Hickey, usually in the same spot; to having an excuse to eat obscene amounts of food, to a lot of weird personal conversations that would probably skeeve most people out, late night bus rides that turn into Freshmen idol and car karaoke, holiday gift exchanges and some really great moments of victory, because we were always thought to be the ‘little guy’.

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I remember the first team meeting that I got lost on the way to, and was therefore late to. I remember our first week of practices, of lifting and the pushing the God-forsaken prowler up and down the hallway as part of our ‘back to the grind circuit.’ I remember when I swam the second 200 fly of my entire life during practice over Christmas training and for a split second coach suggested that maybe I should start swimming that event…and I laughed because that would just be ridiculous.

Now here I am the night before my last week of my swimming career. Accumulated with 4 years of Divison 1 collegiate swimming, over a span of 3 different coaches and a shoulder surgery. Today we exchanged gifts with our team in prep for the biggest meet of our season and they gave the seniors gifts of necklaces that had the coordinates of Bonaventure on them…and being the sap I am I couldn’t help but cry, because honestly, I was just so happy.

Happy that I just whole-heartedly jumped into such a daunting task and decided ‘just to try college swimming’, because sometimes I think of the alternative if I hadn’t. Of the second family that I may not have found; the accomplishments and self-confidence that I otherwise would have missed out on; the journey that I would not have experienced with new found best friends by my side.

I can’t help but laugh as I go into my last week and last few swims in the Bonaventure RC pool in prep for A-10s because even with some pieces of ceiling in the bottom of our pool, we all have done a lot of growing, crying, shared cheers and laughs in that pool. I laugh because this week I will actually be swimming the 200 butterfly for the 12th time in my life. And I laugh because with all the change, pitfalls and triumphs this team has gone through, we never gave up on each other, and honestly the beauty of this journey is because of them.

Hillary Clinton’s Concession Speech Was Exactly What We All Needed to Hear

She’s beauty and she’s grace. Some may consider that a bit of an oversell, however considering the campaign that she, and the entirety of America endured, I think that at the very least she deserves that. She shared more personability in those near 15 minutes than I think many of us have seen from her throughout her many runs in office. To her credit, tough as nails was the only approach she was offered by the assumptions made by the male dominated political sphere that she was in. Regardless of your opinions on her politics, her choices and shortcomings, she deserves credit for standing her ground for all that she has fought for, for being the voice of so many who didn’t in the past haven’t had the voice or courage to speak up.

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In my women and politics class we have discussed many topics, making this timing of taking this class quite interesting as the first major party female nominee went up against Donald Trump. However one the most impactful ideas that I have taken from this election experience and this class was the idea that young people, specifically women, cannot begin to achieve what they cannot see. It is very difficult for young women to realistically see themselves in positions of power, nonetheless political power and even more so, a seat in the oval office, if they cannot see others having attained that. In her concession speech, Hillary mentioned how throughout this election she was grateful to be our champion, a champion of women who played hardball against a competitor who some might say embody the opposite of the social progress we have been working towards; but nonetheless she has crawled her way to the top of that ladder, and that image is the closest we have come to show our young women that, yes it can be done. No, it will not always be fair and yes sometimes you have to fight a little harder than others, but you can get there. She had no problem in admitting the pain of her loss, however she used this as an opportunity to show that losing this battle isn’t losing the race. A setback isn’t worth abandoning your beliefs, which I think is the greatest advice to take from this entire experience.

Regardless of your opinion of her, “never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it, because it is” rings true. To allow the divisive and disturbing ideas that have come about throughout this election that bring us back to days of believing that those who are different from us are the ‘other’ rather than acknowledging how we all come from the same human race and deserve the same respect, is setting back all the hard work that so many have done. It’s these times where the darkness tries to take over that we must remember that we must keep fighting. People are afraid of people who don’t quit, and women, minorities, LBGQT have all gotten this far, although not far enough, because we haven’t stopped fighting. Continue the good fight; show the world that we are the great America that we already know we are. Accepting and loving and a place where we have the right to voice our opinions, that even if you don’t agree with who is going to the next president you at least have the right to say so!

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It would be naïve to suggest that this place we call home is perfect, we are not who we thought we were as a nation, which has become incredibly clear in this election. However,And if you are one of millions who believe that equality and acceptance should reign over prejudice and hate, than yes we still have work to do. But as she said, condemning the winner and abandoning the nation at a time where we need love and those ideas of equality and acceptance more than ever only lets in the darkness, turns us backwards and away from the light. We still have the power. More voices have been heard and people can now recognize the divisive nature that has hidden in the shadows for so long. We cannot despair but rather take the drive that many have had in supporting equality and justice and put it into our days, every single day. The greatest fear that people have is those that will not quite, those that refuse to back down, and even in these moments where it doesn’t make sense, how hate could make it so far, we must remember how far we’ve come and why we must continue to fight in the first place.

You can watch her entire speech here: http://time.com/4564143/hillary-clinton-concession-speech/

Achieving Champion Status By Measure of Heart or Hardware?

To achieve such a great accomplishment of the Olympic games is challenging no matter the sport. These athletes have made sacrifices (a fair mix of physical excruciation and mental sanity), missed events (prom, parties, birthdays), some may not ever had had a normal life because this was their goal. In many cases, these athletes gave their lives to this. And to repay the world watches, screams and cheers their name for them representing their country in a sport.

Can you imagine not taking a day off for years, like Michael Phelps? To train and in return be known as the great athlete to have ever walked or swum the earth? Or Simone Biles who trained 360 days a year, is only 19 years old and some say she is the greatest gymnast Olympian of all time?

But, can you imagine being Missy Franklin coming back to her second Olympics, not missyqualifying in your record breaking gold medal event of the 200 back and then not making it back in the 200 back, or any event for that matter? Can you imagine being Nastia Liukin attempting another Olympic team berth, in 2012, and nearly failing on the uneven bars?

I don’t mention these moments to be points of embarrassment, but to ask you: who do you consider a champion? Those who continued when they were on top, or those who came back not knowing if they would be the best but, decided to give four more years of their life to train to find out?

They are both champions; maybe in different sense of the word, but all in all they have made stellar examples of true passion for what you do. Everyone has their own struggles that they have bounced back from. This often adds to the crown of being a champion because you had the resilience to fight through those hardships. Michael Phelps came back from the brink of dealing with a drinking problem and near suicide fueled by depression and landed on top, which is no small feat.

Although Missy Franklin didn’t experience the same setback and finds herself at the games once again, but people still call her a ‘burn out’ saying that she should’ve stopped in London.

But should she have?

By coming back she, like many athletes who come back for more, is showing the same deeply rooted resilience to keep forging ahead. Sure it is a great accomplishment to stand on top of a podium, but many knew or figured that those would be the outcome of those London Games. I think a true test of a champion is those who continue. Those who come back even amongst the threats of ‘being a has been’. Who pick themselves up and say I can do better. Because what would be worth more? Knowing you were on top when everyone thought you should be or continuing to try even when people counted you out. Sure you may not walk home with a medal around your neck but isn’t knowing that you left every bit of blood, sweat, tears and passion in that arena just as good?

It is easy to stop when you are on top, you will always be remembered as a champion. But those who come back just to see what they have left, don’t they deserve the same recognition?

 

Flourless Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Noticing a trend lately friends?…it’s zucchini. As I have learned of late it is great for ZucchiniMuffin3cooking in so many different dishes, like raviolis for example (here is a great recipe for some) or of this time – chocolate muffins.

I have seen recipes similar to this on Pinterest for quite some time and wanted to see what it is all about. I mashed/changed/created an alternate version of the recipe, because well convenience and you know $$$.

Either way the great thing about zucchini is that it is rather inexpensive and has a lot of volume. {Looking at you college foodies on a budget : ) } It is also very absorbent and therefore it can go a long way when cooking or baking, in addition to the given bonus of sneaking vegetables into a dessert like snack.

ZucchiniMuffinFor my first time making these I followed instructions and made them into muffins. They turned out taste wise: great, but in terms of texture they have the density of a bread more so, and therefore I would recommend trying them in mini loaf pan or pan that you would typically use for brownies. But Im giving a free pass on chocolate muffins so does the form really even matter?!

Anyways…here we go

Ingredients:

    • ½ cup creamy peanut butter (any nut butter will do)
      • I used PB2 which is powdered peanut butter. The point of the peanut butter is the creamy texture not as much the flavor therefore if you are going to use PB2 like I did I would match it with about ½ a cup of water either in the mix or create a peanut butter mixture beforehand.
    • 1 banana
    • 1 egg
    • ¼ cup agave (or honey, whichever you prefer or have on hand)
    • ½ tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 2 scoops of protein powder
      • *optional, I like adding protein where I can because it usually bakes fairly well and protein duh! In this case there is 27 g of protein per scoop, and spread across 12 muffins is an additional 4.5 g of protein per muffin. But this is completely up to you!
    • 1 cup of shredded zucchini
    • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350

1.Rinse and cut off ends of zucchini. Then shred.

2.Dry the zucchini as best you can through balling it into a towel and ringing it out or even just using your hands and squeezing it over the sink. Since we are baking it having some moisture won’t ruin them as much as it would in something like a cauliflower pizza crust.

3.Combine peanut butter, banana, egg, agave, baking soda, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, and protein powder in blender and blend until well combined. *Although combining in a blender is not necessary it works better than a hand mixer once you combine the zucchini later to give a smoother batter.

4.Add zucchini and blend until smooth.

5.Pour batter into tray of your choosing.

  • For muffins, fill each muffin tin to a little more than ½ way. It should be ZucchiniMuffin4enough batter for 12. Sprinkle miniature chocolate chips on top to fulfill your chocolate hears desire
  • For individual loaves, pour batter to fill about ¾ the pan. In my own ‘guesstimation’ this should be enough batter for two mini loaves. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top, again, to your chocolate loving hearts desire.

6.Put into oven and bake for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes check with a toothpick and if necessary continue baking until the toothpick comes out clean. Mine baked for 30 minutes, but the amount of batter and pan you are using could alter this slightly, therefore just keep an eye on them!

7.Cool and enjoy. Pro tip- drizzle with a little chocolate sauce and top with some vanilla ice cream if you’re feeling a little crazy : )

Nutrition/Macro Facts for 1 muffin
*Using protein powder & PB2

  • Calories 140
  • Fat: 2.5g
    • If using regular Peanut Butter the only change will be an increase in fat content to about 7 grams instead of 2.5.
  • Carbohydrates: 14
  • Fiber: 2
  • Sugar: 10
  • Protein: 6

Zucchini Ravioli

Snaps for me because this is a first; creating my own dish without really following a recipe! (Unless you count help by Mom which was major, shout out to Mom!) I saw them floating around for a while and thought I would give them a try, Zucchini Ravioli. Zucchini and other squashes are great vegetables because they are very versatile, but also give you great nutritional value!

In this case we use zucchini to replace the noodles you would traditionally use in ravioli. These are great because you can make them relatively anyway you like and they are actually easy to make, and you know it’s true because it’s me saying that who doesn’t like something where I have to weave a little zucchini home.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 Zucchinis
  • 1 16 ounce container of Part Skim Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ tsp Garlic Powder
  • ½ tsp dry Basil
  • ½ tsp Oregano Seasoning
  • 2 cups of shredded cheese blend of your choice (We used a mix of asiago, mozzarella and parmesan)
  • 1 jar of marinara sauce (any kind of Italian sauce will do)
    • We chose to make our own meat sauce in which we bought a half-pound of lean beef. You could always make this without meat as a vegetarian option, or buy a sauce that already has meat in it! To make your own, cook the ground beef in a pan until it has all darkened to brown. Remove the beef from the pan and pour out the pan. Then pour the sauce and meat back into the same pan and let them simmer to thicken, until you are ready to pour it over the raviolis.

Makes about 14 Ravioli, or enough to fit a 9 x 11 pan.

Directions:

      1. Wash off zucchini and slice off ends.
      2. You want to create strips length wise. This works best if you have a V slicer, otherwise slice zucchini lengthwise as evenly as possible. Continue with both zucchinis until they are all sliced. Slices should be about an eighth of an inch thick so that they are easy to beand without breaking.
      3. Lay slices out on paper towel, during this time you can combine ricotta cheese, an egg, 1 ½ cups of shredded mozzarella cheese, garlic powder, basil and oregano, and mix until combined.

        • Next, take two strips of zucchini and lay them in a cross.ZucchiniStep4
      4. Take a spoonful (about 1 ½ – 2 tablespoon) of filling mixture and place it in the center of the cross.ZucchiniStep4
      5. Then you will fold the excess zucchini in a criss-cross position as you can see below!
      6. ZucchiniStep10
        Make sure to place raviolis ‘seam’ side down so that they don’t pop open!
      7. Once all zucchinis have been filled, folded and placed in the pan, pour meat sauce over so that all ravioli are covered in sauce. Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese on top.
      8. Place in a preheated oven covered with foil for 10 minutes, this allows the vegetable to cook through. Since we have already cooked the meat (if you used meat) the only cooking left to do is allow the cheeses to melt and the zuchini to become tender.
      9. After 10 minutes remove the foil and cook for about 5-10 more minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and browned on top.
      10. Remove from oven, allow to cool and then enjoy! These can be kept for up to 7 days in fridge, but they probably won’t last that long.

This Election is a History Lesson & One That Has Little to Do With Politics

35,042 days, equivalent to about 5006 weeks, or 1,151 months. That is the amount of time that woman have been allowed to vote. Which might sound like a lot, but the year was 1920, and we are in 2016, see that math? It hasn’t even been 100 years!

And here we are in the midst of the Democratic National Convention. In the past I haven’t been one for much of politics, but given recent career opportunities and the fact that I don’t live under a rock I have taken far more notice. I still don’t always enjoy debates about political ideas. Nor do I believe that there is only one correct way for a government to run, but this article isn’t about politics just like what is happening right now in the election is about a lot more than politics, it has to do with history.

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Michelle Obama (you’re amazing) said it best in her DNC address Monday night, “My daughters, and all of our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.” Kids learn by example. Seeing a women stand on a stage in front of a major party tells all young people that women can be in positions of power. And even more than that, what you have to say MATTERS, your ideas and your voice matters. It may take years. For Hillary it may meant dealing with shallow people who choose to question and criticize her outfits, her laugh and her makeup over her ability to critically think and work under pressure. It took stepping outside the definiten of her husbands accomplishments, and proving that she could stand on her own two feet. Sure as hell it wasn’t easy.

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That look you give after smashing some glass ceilings.

Regardless of your political beliefs we are in the midst of history. This is history, because young people today can see that not only can women do the same things men can, but that society is learning to look past sex and see what you have done, what you think and where you stand and let that speak louder than your biological makeup. Yes, we have a very long way to go before true equality but a women president isn’t a bad place to start.

So here is my challenge for you:

  1. a) VOTE. Just get out there, get in the booth and vote, (you get a cool little sticker too.) But really, as women we’ve only had this right for less than 100 years, there are people who were alive just as it was signed into law, who still walk the earth. To save the suffragists from turning over in their graves, or even as a thank you to them – go vote!
  2. B) And most of all, regardless of who you are voting for on election day, take a moment to realize that a woman is an option on that list, and that’s pretty damn incredible.

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Tips for Voting as a Feminist:

Just because you are a feminist or even a women, doesn’t mean you HAVE to vote for Hillary Clinton, or any women in general. In fact that’s the opposite of the idea of feminism. Who knew feminism gave you so much freedom, like watching the Bachelorette to! (Read about it here)

Here’s how it goes. Remember that definition of feminism, how feminism is believing in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes? (Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche) To be a feminist voter one would look outside the lens of sex and vote based on the parameters of the contest, whatever it may be. In this case it is to vote for who you think will do the best job as president (sometimes we forget that it’s really that simple).

Therefore if you were to vote for Hillary Clinton just because she is a woman, then you aren’t serving the ideals of feminism. However if you vote for her because you really think she is best for the job, and she happens to be a woman that’s the right idea!  See what I mean?

I Watch the Bachelorette & Am Still a Feminist

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Feminism…now there’s a dirty F word, the kind that a lot of people are scared to say or even call themselves and is rarely a term of endearment, mostly because it is greatly misunderstood, but that is a discussion for a later time.

As we are in the PRIME of The Bachelorette watching season, having just experienced some Bachelorette JOJOhometown dates and waiting to see who Jojo will decide to send home (after that post Luke confession of ‘I love you’ left us at a cliff hanger last week), I coincidentally rebranded my blog to focus on the 4 things most important to me: Food, Fitness, Fun and Feminism.

In all honesty I have only started using the word feminist as of recent, because to tell the truth, I was afraid of it too. If I called myself a feminist did that mean I should be offended by guys holding doors open for me? Should I hate any form of clothing that is tight fitting, should I be ashamed of feeling sexy because I am perpetuating norms that my body is only good for that?! Do I have to burn all of my bras? No no…put down the blowtorch.

Yes – it all seems very tricky and complicated with all these rules to follow. But most of all can I still call myself a feminist if I watch a show that puts groups of good looking people in one room, competing for the attention all in the name of love, while also being judged superficially by millions of people every Monday night?

 

I say YES and here is why…

 

If I learned anything in the intro classes of Women’s Studies this past semester, (which was actually many things) the most important thing was this: there isn’t a wrong way to be a feminist. Sure there are some principles that are logically understood that any forward thinking and right minded person would understand to be feminist ideals, however it isn’t a definition or exclusive club that if you vary in some aspects you are immediately booted from the VIP list.

ChimamadaNgoziAdichie
You should definitely read her book, or at least check her TedTalk here.

My favorite definition of a feminist that I have heard thus far is by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (author, public speaker and feminist) – ‘Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.’

Wait…Sound familiar…?

FlawlessGIF

Yeah you just got ‘Beyonce’d’ (who is a feminist, so if you need any additional convincing reason to call yourself one, boom – there ya go)

During my research I found many articles banishing the ideas and ‘membership’ of anyone who could watch the ‘horrendous’ show that is the Bachelor…alright fair enough. However, I also found many who supported the habit.

-“The Bachelor hits us in that really vulnerable part of ourselves where we all want love and fulfillment…I think a lot of cerebral, New Yorker–reading women are into the Bachelor franchise because it’s a funhouse version of our own dating lives at one time,” Breslaw observes. “We’ve all dated the fratty douche who got too drunk on the first date, the emotionally removed asshole you shouldn’t fall for but you do, the totally-nice-and-cute-so-why-don’t-I-feel-it guy.”  

Anne Breslaw, renowned author of Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here, and avid advocated of equality and feminism, quoted in Vogue’s ‘Why Feminists Are Obsessed With the Bachelorette

And we have, haven’t we? It’s nice to see that even the most gorgeous of people, and those exposed on reality TV also suffer from the same insecurities and fears about love and vulnerability. There is no denying that the show is also incredibly entertaining with the ‘crazies’ (whether producer orchestrated or not). Either way it taps into that humanity that we all feel, a wanting to be loved and the idea of finding someone who just gets you, even if if to accomplish that you find yourself in the midst of many weeks of sharing a significant other with about 20 other people…

“No feminist is perfect, because the cause isn’t something that is standard, objective, and static.”… “The Bachelor” is a reminder that we can like things that aren’t huddled under the umbrella of ‘feminist culture’ — it’s okay to watch what we want (with a critical eye, of course)… What’s more destructive [than watching The Bachelor] is feminists targeting other feminists for their praxis, just because they don’t see eye to eye. A guilty pleasure does not make somebody less of a warrior for their cause — we are only human.”

– Naajiyah, an interviewed PR student, quoted in Jodie Layne’s, ‘7 Reasons It’s Okay To Be A Feminist and Watch The Bachelorette’ 

Similar to the idea that you can call yourself a woman no matter your path of life choice, you can call yourself a feminist regardless too, because there isn’t a wrong way to be one. It is ok to want to never be married, live self-sufficiently and never want children. Just like it is ok to want to get married and be a stay at home mom. There is no wrong way to be a feminist just like there is no wrong way to be a woman. The whole ideal behind feminism is supporting others life choices in a way that advances the deserved respect and understanding of all people.

Additionally, The Bachelorette gives people who may not fully understand those feminist ideas, a place to recognize the double standards that take place in society, on a nationwide broadcasted stage, in turn, giving opportunity for conversations about those issues to take place. For example, when Kaitlyn Bristowe was ‘slut-shamed’ for hooking up with two

KaitlynBristowe
The haters…the haters were screeching

different guys, during her time as the Bachelorette, many were outraged. How could she do this, what a slut?! But equally from the other side came voices that said she shouldn’t be shamed for her not only enjoying her sexuality, but also for doing what many other bachelors have done in the past. Then the shocking light bulb went off that made people realize that, in everyday life, this is the same process of judgment that they put their female peers through, whereas males are often never scrutinized.

Now I am not claiming that having rotating seasons of single people finding love is the prime example of equality in the dating world. Nor should it be looked to as the best example of reality TV promoting feminism (In Kaitlyn’s season, before becoming The Bachelorette she had to be voted in by the guys, over another previous Bachelor contestant). But when the tables turn and men are forced to the endure the long trailing season of waiting for date cards and group date scenarios, ‘equality justice’ is served (well as much as it can be.) Men and women alike must leave their jobs, home and friends in this pursuit of love, this thing that seems to eclipse 26 gorgeous people each year, that they head for the Bachelor mansion in California. The sacrifices made are equal. In other contexts women are often taught to have a career as life placed holder until they find someone to take over the money making commitment, so they can pursue their next requirement of having children. That’s the only way to be a woman in your 30’s right? Wrong. Here men and women walk away from important parts of their life, at a range of ages, to hopefully find something better, but either way they are both being asked to make the same sacrifice in the search of love.

Ultimately, though the biggest reason that watching The Bachelorette, while identifying as feminist is ok, is because you are here, right now caring enough about the issue to get to word 1,043 with me (yep, this was a ranty one) You recognize the potential conflict of interest and care enough about the apparent issues to learn more about it. Blindly accepting pop culture norms or ideas is ignorance, however you are, instead, making steps to understand how you identify yourself when it comes to issues, and recognizing that the issues exist in the first place is the crucial first step!

Bottom line: Because you’re a feminist and you want people to be free and equal to do what you want, you can do what you want.

Protein Peanut Butter Cups

I originally found this recipes in Buzzfeed’s ‘How to Have Protein for Desert’ article…and I have already made them 3 times since then!ProteinPBCups

The recipe originally comes from a lovely blog called Peanut Butter and Fitness (who has a great blog that you should definitely check out for other recipes!)

This recipe is especially simple and the perfect sweet treat to end your day with that will also give you good dose of proteins and fats (OMG she said fats…good fats, the kind you actually need!)

I’m not the kind of person who can usually have one of anything, specifically desert type things. When I go in on sweets I GO IN, ice cream sundae with three scoops, 4 brownies, you know what I mean. But with these I can honestly say that not only do I feel zero guilt for eating them (because why feel guilt for enjoying yummy things?) but I can honestly be sweetly satisfied with just one.

I have even used these on days when I get home from work and feel sluggish, but also need to get a workout in. Not too heavy but definitely can be a good kick of energy if needed!

Ingredients:

    • 3/4 cup 60% Ghiradellhi Dark chocolate Morsels
    • 1/4 cup PB2
    • 3 tbsp Peanut Butter
    • 2 tbsp Protein Powder (I use Muscle Milk Vanilla Whey Protein)
    • 1/4 Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

Directions:

  • Take a muffin tray, I use a mini one, and line with muffin tins.
  • Melt chocolate
    1. I microwave in a microwave safe bowl for about two minutes, stopping around every 30 seconds to mix it up.
    2. This also can be done over low heat on the stove, but I feel too much pressure doing that and think the microwave is easier!
  • Pour just enough melted chocolate into the bottom of each cup to cover the bottom of the muffin paper and repeat until all desired cups are filled.
    1. I have always found that I run out of chocolate before I run out of the filling, so use sparingly, but worse comes to worst you can always melt more chocolate later!
  • Combine PB2, peanut butter, protein powder, and almond milk together. You may need to put mixture or atleast the peanut butter in the microwave to soften it to mix.
  • Using two spoons, scoop the combined filling into the individual cups, usually a little less than a tablespoon, but there is really no wrong way to do it!
  • Pour remaining melted chocolate on top of cup.
  • Refridgerate for 1 hour, and enjoy. These can be stored in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 weeks, but honestly they probably won’t last that long

Nutrition Information:

  • 1 Cup = 118 calories, 8g fat, 8.5g carbs, 5g sugar, 1.5g fiber, 6.4g protein.Notes: You can really use any protein you would like, just be aware it will probably change the nutrition information so adjust accordingly! You are also free to adjust the chocolate if you aren’t a fan of dark, however that will definitely increase the sugar content, and really with the peanut butter flavor you hardly notice!