Neutral, but Offensive??

A plain red cup. How could something so simplistic be offensive?

An evangelist enthusiast decided to bash Starbucks for their plain red, holiday cups. The removal of their usual seasonal symbols has led this Arizonian to the conclusion that “Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus.” A logical assumption, yeah?

First of all, I would like you to note how I refuse to use his name. You want to know who it is, go read an article about it from every other news source. This radical, negative outburst is probably driving record numbers to his blog, only encouraging him to become more vocal about his intolerances. Yes, writing about what he has done is still a way of unintentionally promoting him, but instead of focusing on him, what I’m about to write has more to do with my opinion of society as whole, and his actions are just today’s example.

Next, let’s address how people are taking regular winter symbols and linking them directly to Christmas. Last I checked snowflakes weren’t symbols of Christianity. Obviously, they represent winter and the holiday season, but to claim they support Christmas alone is extremely short-sighted. In fact, if you really want to get into it, the traditional pine trees along with the colors red and green were originally used for the Pagan holiday Yule.

It can be a bit disheartening to hear about intolerance and pettiness, especially as it become more prevalent. When I first read the story a couple days ago, I was bracing myself for all the people to support this religious extremist. Of course, there were people who did, but the overwhelming response was in favor of the coffee company. Not only have they stood-up for everyone’s right to celebrate the holiday season with their own traditions, but they stood-up for their own religious beliefs. They confirmed they didn’t need holiday symbols to reinforce their belief systems; making the point that if you do, then maybe your core beliefs aren’t as strong as you think.

Now, with that said, it is time to take a moment and praise Starbucks for their 2015 Holiday Cup design. At first glance it may seem boring, but its neutrality makes it brilliant. When Starbucks took a moment to defend their now famous red cups, they said they took their cue from customers who have been doodling designs on cups for years.

“This year’s design is another way Starbucks is inviting customers to create their own stories with a red cup that mimics a blank canvas…Starbucks has become a place of sanctuary during the holidays. We’re embracing the simplicity and the quietness of it.”

The two-toned, ombré color scheme of a “bright poppy” top and “cranberry” bottom gives the cup a subtle dimension. That mixed with the companies iconic green logo gives it a festive feel without it screaming, “HOLIDAYS!” It is unbiased like a company should be when it comes to matters like religion and traditions. As it intended, people have been posting their own doodles on the cups, spurring their own ideas.

Starbucks decided to take the practical stance of avoiding holiday/religious symbols, and in doing so has ironically turned their Red Cup into its own symbol. Yes, it represents the holidays, and for a moment it stood for how easily society gets offended, but at the end of the day, it symbolizes how resilient people’s beliefs are. It shows what people can do with a “blank canvas,” and that, when all is said and done, maybe we are finally becoming more accepting of each others different ways of life. Now that is a happy holidays!

30 Day “Green” Smoothie Challenge – DAY 1

I eat like crap.

Recently, I started keeping track of my meals, and although my dinners were healthy/well balanced, everything leading-up-to it was junk food.

Some friends at work swore by green smoothies for breakfast. They said it gives them tons of energy, they are getting their daily dose of veggies all in the morning, and it is a great way to jump-start the day. Well that sounds fantastic, right? My current breakfast was boring Rice Chex cereal with coconut milk. Can you say bland?

Over the last couple of days, I have been experimenting with some smoothies in the morning. The girls from work gave me their recipes, chalked full of vitamins from kale, lemons, celery, and a ton of other healthy items. Too nervous to fully commit to buying and possibly wasting all that produce, I’ve been making things up as I go.

I was so excited when I made my first smoothie Monday morning. Blending all those colorful ingredients in my never before used Ninja Blender (although I’ve had it for years…woops!). I used frozen pineapples, spinach, apples, coconut milk, and Greek yogurt. It was disgusting! Definitely did not have the ratios down even the slightest. Worst yet, since it was filled with frozen fruit, it was too cold to chug. I had to slowly sip it all morning!

After doing some research, I stumbled across this amazing site called Yummly. They have a recipe for a “Green Smoothie for Beginners.” I adjusted it a tad to meet my needs, and the results have been fabulous. Still tweaking it, but I feel I might be onto something.

With that said, as of today, I will be starting a 30 day green smoothie challenge, and I would like to encourage others to partake. For me, I will be having them for breakfast, and will be sticking with the “green” ones. Feel free to put your own spin on it though! Perhaps you want to replace your afternoon snack of chips with a strawberry and banana smoothie, or you’re tired of your power bar after the gym and want to create a protein filled smoothie.

Personally, I’m really enjoying my current smoothie, which can be found below. Of course, whenever possible, I try to keep everything organic and local.

Please don’t hesitate to leave your favorite smoothie recipes in the comments below!

Miss Sustainability’s Yummly Green Smoothie

**Makes 1 Serving

½ Cup Coconut Milk

½ Fuji Apple

½ Banana

Big Handful of Spinach

1 Tbs. of Creamy Peanut Butter

1 tsp. of Cinnamon

Blend until happy with the consistency.

Bon Appetite!

Happiness Jar

Have you ever wanted to bottle-up a good feeling, so you could use it on a rainy day? Rejoice, for now you can!

This is an idea I stole from Elizabeth Gilbert, the amazing author of Eat. Pray. Love. The idea is simple enough: At the end of every day, take a few minutes to document its happiest part. Then at the end of the year, or when you’re feeling down, read what you wrote, and relive those precious moments. As time goes by, it is easy to get bogged down by life’s everyday drudgeries. Even if everything is going well, it might be difficult to fully appreciate it. By incorporating a Happiness Jar into your daily routine, you are forced to take stock of your blessings. It is especially important to focus on those positive moments when it feels like your life is filled with constant battles or hopelessness.

Any kind of container will work, not just jars. You can use a decretive bowl or repurpose an old shoebox. Personally, I chose a small candy jar to start. I record the highlights of my day on butterfly-shaped sticky notes I received as a graduation gift last year. If you want, you can write a page full of details, but I prefer to sum-up everything in a few concise sentences.

Creating a Happiness Jar was one of my New Year’s Resolutions. I’m still not in the habit of adding to it daily, in fact, I sometimes get behind, and do several days at once! It isn’t always big, life changing events making the cut. Turns out, it is the little things throughout the day that ultimately have the most impact. I always sit there for a moment, to see what comes to mind first. Sometimes it is a brief interaction with a stranger at the store, but more often than not it has something to do with food! It has become an interesting learning tool for me, to see where my values lie. By identifying what makes me happy, I can add more of it to my life. For instance, since food has become such a focal point, I have been trying new restaurants and healthy drinks. On my quest for new items, I have discovered Kombucha tea, pies in jars, and acai berries.

This can be used on your personal journey or as a bonding tool for families. You can’t mess it up, and nothing but happiness can come from it. Give it a try, and see how it affects your life. I would love to hear your stories, so don’t be shy to share.

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2015 Resolutions (or at least momentary good intentions)

Out with the old, and in with the new. A whole year is ahead of us, to do whatever we want. Get healthy, de-clutter our lives, save money, finally read that book… Of course, most of us put these goals to the wayside within a few weeks, but every once in a while, we follow through.

Sticking with tradition, here are my goals for the coming year. It is a glimpse into what you will find in my blog over the coming months (hopefully). I admit, the chances of me sticking to them are slim, but if I manage to see through even just one of them, I shall consider 2015 a success. Perhaps, with the help of my supporters, I will be held more accountable. Who knows, maybe it will even help someone stay motivated.
Here is to a new year, a fresh start, and a continuation of the wonderful things already in our lives. Cheers!

Flagstaff, Arizona - Photo taken by Steve Woodward

Flagstaff, Arizona – Photo taken by Steve Woodward

2015 Resolutions

1. Write more! Work on my blog! Work on my book! Write, write, write!
2. Read all eight books on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Every Intelligent Person on the Planet Should Read list. Scratch that. Let’s read at least one. Two, if I’m feeling ambitious.
3. How about, just read more! Over the last year, I’ve watched pretty much everything available on Netflix, yet my book pile keeps getting taller. Time to fix that.
4. Up-Cycle. Pinterest inspires me on a weekly basis. In fact, I have a whole board dedicated to this. First project is refurnishing a set of drawers I have.
5. Start a happiness jar. Heard about one of these from Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat. Pray. Love.). More on this tomorrow!
6. Finish watching Cosmos. This is a fantastic show everyone must watch. It covers everything you need to know about the known universe. By the end of each episode, you feel very tiny, but the insights you gain are worth it.
7. Explore dietary options. There are a lot of theories about what the best diet is for people to be on. I would like to try them and see what is realistic and/or helpful.
8. Go on more hikes. There is nothing better than getting exercise, while enjoying the great outdoors.
9. Investigate home remedies. Trying natural solutions to problems, whether it is using olive oil to revive my dry hair, creating a sugar scrub to remove dry skin, or drinking ginger tea for an upset stomach.
10. Inspire. I really hope, someone reads my blog and goes, “That doesn’t seem too bad. I want to try that too.” If I can get one person to this, I will feel like all of this is worth it.

Shark Factoids

Here are some interesting facts about sharks. Enjoy!

~There are roughly 400 shark species that exist, but only four present an innate danger to human beings. They are: Great White sharks, Tiger sharks, Bull sharks, and the Hammerhead sharks.

~There are 9 different species of Hammerhead sharks, and only 3 of them are dangerous to humans.

Hammerhead Shark

Hammerhead Shark

~Sharks are believed to have been living on earth for 400 million years.

~Some species of shark can have a total of up to 30,000 teeth in their lifetime.

~Dried shark skin has had many uses over the years including sandpaper and in Germany and Japan for non-slip grips for swords.

~The Great White shark can last 3 months without food.

~Sharks can’t get cancer. Right now, their cartilage is being used in experiments to try and find a cancer cure.

~About ¼ of a Goblin shark’s weight is the liver, and that helps them to conserve energy and to be buoyant.

Goblin Shark

Goblin Shark

~More people are killed by bee stings than by a shark attack.

~Bull sharks are the only sharks that can live in fresh and salt water. It is suspected one may have been responsible for a shark attack in a creek in New Jersey in 1916.

~Shark’s bodies are denser than sea water. If they stop moving they will sink. So to stay afloat they must keep moving.

~When a shark dies its cartilage dissolves and its teeth drop to the bottom of the ocean where they are covered with sandy sediment. This prevents oxygen and destructive bacteria from reaching the tooth allowing researchers to carry out in depth tests that help to determine the age of the fossil.

~Whale shark is the largest fish in the sea, and their favorite meal is plankton.

Whale Shark

Whale Shark

 

Shark Double-Take

funny shark

 

It’s time for us to all take a moment and acknowledge how sharks really aren’t scary without that sharp, toothy grin. I’m not sure who created these photos (or who put together the collage), but it was too amusing to pass-up. Need some humor up in here!