Friday, November 22, 2013

YouTube Channel Review: Blimey Cow

Hello readers!

Today, I'd like to try something a bit different. I'm going to write a review! But not just any review...a YouTube Review!

I'm going to start small with something general like my favorite YouTube channel: Blimey Cow.

Some of you are probably wondering, "What is Blimey Cow?" Well, I'm glad you asked! Blimey Cow is an organization made by the Taylor family in Nashville, Tennessee. Their names are: Josh, Jordan, and Kelli.

The really neat thing about Blimey Cow is that they don't just make YouTube videos, but podcasts, blogs, and so many other types of media surrounding around the goal to get people thinking by entertaining them.

Their most popular endeavor is a YouTube show called "Messy Mondays" in which Josh, Jordan, and Kelli, along with their family and friends come together to share their opinions on controversial topics, current events, and special issues that people of all ages can relate to in their everyday lives. For years, they have discussed relationships, politics, religion, education, marriage, etiquette, the Internet, and even topics and issues related to Christianity and the church.

Recently, three of their "Messy Mondays" videos have gone viral, and overall, their channel has over two hundred and twenty thousand subscribers and over thirty-one million views.

Josh, Jordan, and Kelli always make their videos with the highest respect to everyone around them, despite what some comments may say. They realize that they're not always going to be 100% successful, happy, and perfect, but that's the idea of their channel: they do all of what they do to glorify God and change the world, one laugh and profound thought at a time. They do their best to avoid biased opinions, but at the same time, they're not afraid to share their thoughts, which is exactly what they encourage their viewers to do as well. This is a wonderful Christian family that sees problems around them and tries to point them out by bringing a smile to their viewers' faces and helping them think through what is occurring in the world around them. Granted, some of Blimey Cow's videos have heavy sarcasm, and some of their earliest videos were a bit snarky, but the sarcasm can be accepted as a modern way to laugh at our mistakes instead of feeling awful about them.

Overall, I highly recommend Blimey Cow to all audiences on YouTube. They glorify God in what they do, they boldly and considerately share their opinions to their viewers, and they strongly welcome laughter and critical thinking when people any viewers watch their videos.

As for me, I'll be excitedly awaiting another episode on Monday!

Blimey Cow's Most Popular Videos:

Blimey Cow's YouTube Channel:
Blimey Cow's Website:

Questions for the Reader: Do you watch Blimey Cow? What do you think of it? What are your favorite episodes? If you've never watched Blimey Cow, are you interested in trying it? Which of these episodes do you like the most? Also, what do you think of me writing reviews? Should I write more? Feel free to give suggestions and feedback!

"For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea." --Habakkuk 2:14

Don't forget to comment and share with your friends! 
Also, remember to link-up on my last post, "I'm Thankful For..." (The more, the merrier!)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"I'm Thankful For..." Link-Up

It's that time of the year again. Thanksgiving is a little over a week from now. Schools are studying Plymouth Plantation, the cooks of the families are making the longest grocery lists known to man, and Macy's, once again, is planning the ultimate parade.

But what is Thanksgiving really about? Surely it's not only about eating twice as much as you really should one day per year, and watching football or parades.

No, it's about taking time to think about all of God's graces and blessings in our lives that we have to thank Him for.

Here are a few of my favorite things to be thankful for:

1. Interests and Talents
Imagine a world where humans were talent-less, had no inspiration or creativity, and no capability to do something great for God. I'm so thankful for that opportunity: to wake up every day and decide to glorify God with the talents He gave me and the interests that He has set in my heart.

2. Family
This is one of the obvious Sunday school answers, but at the same time, it's actually profound. I remember reading an article several months ago about a cause supporting orphans in Romania who were psychologically harmed. It was so sad to see some of the videos that were posted and how none of those children had any family that was willing to give them support to lead exceptional and extraordinary lives. That's why I'm especially thankful this year to be with my family every day. Thanks to them, I'll be able to truly celebrate Thanksgiving, and I think that's something that a lot of Americans often take for granted.

3. Education
Education is a bit more than being past the point of unintelligence, or just being able to say that we're smart, or have a bigger brain than an alligator. Education is the gift from God in which we learn how to think, not what to think. I'm grateful that I have so many wonderful educational opportunities that teach me how to think critically, follow Christ, and pursue the interests and talents that (again), God has given me to glorify Him.

4. Friends
I've had some bumpy roads this year with a couple of friendships of mine. But through those rough times, I've learned to be patient and loving, and even trusting the people who care about me, even when there's a risk of getting hurt in the end (but there's also a chance of wonderful things to happen as well). On top of that, I've learned that I have to love the Lord above all else, because He is the only one who gives me self-worth. 

5. Communication
Where would anyone be without the ability to communicate? For crying out loud, this blog would be non-existent. We'd all probably be swaying to and fro in the fetal position trying to figure out how to live life on our own since we would have no capability to get help from others. I think that loving our neighbors strongly connects to communication. It's so fascinating how a 6 word tweet can bring thousands of people to a concert, or 500 words can change minds when they are spoken on a podium. I've even seen people's hearts turned around over one Bible verse. I'm thankful for our ability to communicate. Without it, we'd likely be able to truly love one another.

Now it's your turn! I have created a link-up for all of you readers to share what you are thankful for. If you're having trouble thinking of some, don't worry! The link-up ends on Monday, December 2nd, so you have plenty of time.

Don't forget to comment on this post, invite your friends to follow this blog, and have fun linking-up!

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods." --Psalm 95:2-3

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

How-To Plan a Picnic

It's about time I made a how-to post that doesn't remind you of school.

How-To Plan a Picnic 
by Hayley Robinson

There are not too many beautiful autumn days left in the year, so what is one way that you can be outside and make the most of it? Plan a picnic!

Just in case you're not comfortable with planning an outdoor lunch, here's how to look like a pro when you take a friend, family member, or anyone else you care about on a special autumn day picnic.

You will need:
  • A blanket or a location picked out with picnic tables (several parks have these)
  • A basket or cooler that can carry the food safely to the location without it being spoiled (You might need a couple of these: one cooler/basket for the food, another for the blanket and silverware, cups, napkins, and plates)
  • Recipes for your favorite packed lunch
  • Silverware, Napkins, Cups, Plates, etc. (Paper and Plastic work well, unless it's a slightly windy day. If so, the picnic might end in an empty cup chase!)
Step 1: Location, Location, Location
You always want to pick the location which is the most convenient. If you're going out on a Sunday picnic with your family after church, it might be best to pick a location closer to the church, your house, or if it's not too much trouble, a scenic location that you don't always go to! Wherever you go, make sure that it's convenient, but also special.

Step 2: Picking the Day
When you plan the location, you want to keep the day in which you will be arriving in mind. It might be a bad idea to plan a picnic right after your dad's ultra-busy day at the office planning an event he's been working on for weeks, or the day right before your friend has two papers and a project due. You also want to keep a close watch on what the weather will be for that day. If it's rainy, cold, or foggy, or if you just had a snowfall, it will likely be a bad day to have a picnic. Of course, the weather can be beyond your control. Simply be on the lookout!

Step 3: Menu
The key to making a lovely picnic is to keep it simple. Don't make a 4-hour recipe that has to cook overnight and bake in the morning that you can't refrigerate in a cooler. Make sandwiches or salads or even soups that you can keep in a thermos (if you can manage to bring the right serving-ware). Sometimes you don't even have to go that far into preparing. What our family has done in the past is go to Subway at 10 in the morning, buy sandwiches that don't have very much wet ingredients (so that they aren't soggy by lunchtime or afternoon) and keeping them in a cooler. For sides, we buy boxes of cookies and bags of chips from the grocery store with cans of soda, lemonade packs, or Gatorade. Overall, it's a delicious and memorable lunch that I'll remember for several years to come! I repeat: keep it simple. You'll feel so much better knowing that you did your best without the stress.

Step 4: Decorations
If it's a bit of a special occasion for a picnic, I suggest sweet and simple decorations. Maybe find a classic wooden basket to keep the food in (if a cooler is not needed), or a decorative blanket that you don't mind having on the ground. Perhaps find paper plates with flowers on them, or break out the nice glasses and silverware (if you can manage to keep them safe). Be creative, keep it simple, and have fun!

Step 5: Enjoy!
By this point, everything should be ready to go. Hopefully these tips were helpful for you and that you will have a beautiful autumn picnic while the season and nice weather lasts!

Question for the Reader: Do you enjoy picnics?

"Jesus said to them, 'Bring some of the fish you have just caught.' So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, 'Come and have breakfast.' None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish." --John 21:9-13

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Just a Quote :)

I found this quote today, and I thought it completely explained how to learn:

I just thought I'd share this with you all! :)

Question for the Reader: What is your learning style?

"Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles." --Proverbs 1:5-6

(Link-up to Wildflowers)

The 30-Day Blog Challenge, Day 26: "It's All About Popular!"

Prompt: What popular notion do you think the world has wrong?

Goodness! I could have made an entire blog revolving around this subject alone (but that could be a very uncomfortable blog to read...)!

However, I'm going to discuss a subject that's very near and dear to my heart: education. Specifically, "Non-regular school." That's right, homeschoolers, online-schoolers, independent studiers, alternative education students, vocational education students, hybrid program students, classical students, and everything in between! You're in the spotlight today! :)

When I think about the prompt for today's post, I remember the cute song from the musical "Wicked." Do you guys know that one? The prequel to The Wizard of Oz? My sister absolutely loves it, and I enjoy seeing some excerpts from it at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The song that I'm meaning to mention is called "Popular." It's pretty catchy (here's a video if you've never heard it before):
One of my favorite parts is toward the end where she sings:
It's all about popular!
It's not about aptitude
It's the way you're viewed
So it's very shrewd to be
Very very popular
Like me!

If anything, this sums up what culture is all about: to be famous like all of the other famous people! Of course, thought has a PART to do with it, but it's more important to focus on looks and fame, because that's what's most important! Right?


Then...why do we act like it?

I can't tell you how many conversations that have begun with "Where do you go to school?" and ended with a quiet, painfully awkward "Oh..." with an implied "Sorry I asked."

And I'm not hurt by that at all! I am well aware of the fact that my school is not "normal." I go to two schools at the same time! That's abnormal, and I totally understand how that can be uncomfortable to think about at first.

The thing that us homeschoolers and "non-regular" students are often bothered by is the amount of judgment that comes with the news that their friend is homeschooled, like...

"What does that mean exactly?"
"Do you think you'll be prepared for college with that type of education?"
"How do you do extracurricular activities?"
"Wow, I feel so sorry for you."
"How do you survive?" "I see, so you don't mind the lack of a social aspect?"
"Don't you want to have more friends?"
"What do you do for fun?"
"Don't you want to experience the real world?"

(I kid you not. These questions have been asked to several "non-regular" students everywhere.)

To be clear, the definition of homeschool is not the education for those with no capabilities, no talents, and no clue as to what happens outside of our bedrooms. Guys, we do not live under a rock, we have plenty of friends, and we certainly have the capability to do the fun things that you do. That includes dances, sports, clubs, activities, and knowledge of the world surrounding us just like you do!

However, just because we lead a different life than you do and we have different interests than you does NOT mean that we're a new-found alien from Area 51.

We might be more similar than you think, but not in ways that you might expect.

So, the next time you're about to judge that "non-regular" student that you're with, or pester them with rude questions, instead, say, "Tell me more about that." And maybe after a while, you'll find yourself saying (as Jordan Taylor once said), "PLEASE TAKE ME WITH YOU!!!"

Question for the Reader: What do you value in education?

"Judge not that you be not judged." --Matthew 7:1

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The 30-Day Blog Challenge, Day 25: Current Book List

Prompt: 5 last books you read (or are reading).

Since I'm not reading 5 books all at once, and I can only remember a couple of books that I last read, here is a combined list of 5 books I'm reading and have read.

1) I Kissed Dating Good-bye by Joshua Harris (currently reading)
I'm really enjoying this book. It's put a lot of things into perspective about how I should think about dating, courtship, and marriage in terms of the Bible, not based on what everyone else's actions.
2) Emma by Jane Austen (currently reading)
Reading this book has ultimately come to a standstill. It's been several weeks since I've picked it up. I've just been reading so many other books for school and other purposes!
3) The Bible (currently reading)
I'm trying to study a lot of the Psalms, as well as Leviticus, Numbers, and 1 Corinthians.
4) Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris (read)
When I read this book, it was pretty life changing. As a teenager, the culture so often expects me to be the stereotype of going to school and having a hobby like a sport, instrument, or video games, and that's all we're really expected to do. But what if I chose to be someone so much more than the low expectations of the world? Isn't that what God calls everyone to be?
5) Start Here by Alex and Brett Harris (about to read)
This is the sequel or "field guide" to Do Hard Things. I haven't started it yet, but I can't wait to read it!

If you'd like a more detailed list of what I'm reading, what I've read before, and what I'd like to read, I have a Goodreads account, and I'd love to be friends if you have one too!

Question for the Reader: Do you have a Goodreads account?

Jesus answered, "It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” --Matthew 4:4

The 30-Day Blog Challenge, Day 24: Pet Peeves

Prompt: What are some of your biggest pet peeves?

I know that I have one ultimate pet peeve so I'm just going to share it as a hypothetical story:

Imagine yourself back to school and it's the last day before a holiday break. You have everything turned in, no missing assignments, grades are up, and you don't have much homework to do over the break at all. You only have one more class to go before you go home and start vacation.

You take your seat in the classroom. Class has started and your teacher is making announcements about what's left to do before the concert/vacation comes up at the end of the week.

Your teacher makes the last announcement, "I know all of you are excited for this concert/vacation coming up, and I know you all have been working very hard. And I know that you all should not be doing homework at this time. Therefore, you don't have anything assigned at this time."
You are so relieved. Nothing can ruin this day for you. Everything is perfect! Until...

"However, there is one thing you have to have prepared before next class. Please answer the questions at the end of the chapter, read over these articles, and have it all ready to be turned in by the end of next class. You will not have any class time to complete it, so you must finish it at home. It's not homework, but it will count toward your grade."

Here's what it sounds like in the students' ears when teachers say that: "I'm assigning you something to read and to answer questions based on what we've been studying for several days in order to review in class, which you cannot do at school, you must do at home, and you will be graded on it. I know this is the ultimate definition of homework, but let's not call it that."

Every time I hear this, I always think I might be filmed on one of those punk shows, where the people get pranked on camera and it gets millions of hits on YouTube.

...But it's always real.

Anyway, that's my ultimate pet peeve. :)

Question for the Reader: What's your biggest pet peeve?

"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." --Ephesians 4:1-2

Monday, November 4, 2013

The 30-Day Blog Challenge, Day 23: Hobbies

Prompt: List your top 3 favorite hobbies and why you love them.

1) Blogging!!!
Yes, indeed. Blogging is one of my favorite hobbies. Why? It allows me to write continuously (not just when papers are due at school) about life, the Lord and His ways and share them with people all over the world. I also consider it to be a way of professing my faith to others.

2) Baking
I'm definitely one of those people that think baking is therapeutic. I love the quote from the movie Julia and Julia in which the food blogger Julie Powell says, "You know what I love about cooking? I love that after a day when nothing is sure, and when I say "nothing" I mean nothing, you can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. It's such a comfort." I love how baking is a science. If you simply follow the recipe, and measure things carefully, you'll end up with a perfect masterpiece. It's also nice when I'm at home, and everyone else is having a stressful or hard day somehow, just combining an egg, peanut butter, and sugar and baking it turns into something sweet and rewarding for them.

3) Music/Teaching
I wanted to list both of these on my hobby list, but I ranked them together so that it still counted as 3. :)
Teaching: I truly enjoy teaching, because when I prepare to teach a lesson of some form, I learn something too. I either learn a different technique of how to do something, or I learn a fun new fact that I never knew before, or I even learn more about the person that I'm teaching and build a stronger relationship with that person. I feel that it's a gift that God gave me, and I hope to keep learning how to teach even better as I grow.
Music: Have you ever noticed that when you tap your foot on the floor or your pencil on the desk, you're adding background music to your day? Why do grocery stores always play songs at a certain volume, or even at restaurants, a local Subway might play rock music in the background, or a special expensive restaurant might hire live bands to come play? Everyone enjoys music in different forms. It's something special that adds to everyone's life. Without music, life somehow seems a bit empty. Life all of a sudden feels bland or awkward or uncomfortable when there is not one sound to be heard. That's why I like playing music. It feels like I'm adding more to someone's day.

Question for the Reader: How do you like to contribute to other people's lives in big or small ways?

"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." --Philippians 2:4

The 30-Day Blog Challenge, Day 22: Good Luck, Future Me!

Prompt: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?

5 years from now: I will be 21 years old.
I see myself in college, getting a degree in either some form of Education, Curriculum and Instruction, English & Literature, Creative Writing, and perhaps a minor in Philosophy, Theology, or the Classics. Clearly there are a lot of stereotypes for people who don't spend their 21st year very wisely, and I do not plan to be one of them. Instead, I'd like to focus on establishing a career in an interest that is close to my heart which pleases the Lord.

10 years from now: I will be 26 years old.
I will either be starting a career, or getting a Ph.D. (if I'm still interested) or both. At that point in time, I hope to have my own apartment or share one with a good friend or my sister. It would be great if my education was all finished by then, but of course, it's not easy pursuing a degree in a short amount of time.

15 years from now: I will be 31 years old.
At this point, I hope to be settled in a career that is pleasing to the Lord. If the Lord allows it, I hope to be married and perhaps have a child or two, or maybe three (some perhaps adopted), and living out the plan that God has in store for my life. 31 years is still a young age, so I am quite convinced that I won't have everything figured out and placed into nice, tidy organized boxes, but above all else, I hope to have a wonderful relationship with God that displays His love to everyone around me.

Question for the Reader: Where do you see yourself in the future?

"And the Lord has declared today that you are a people for his treasured possession, as he has promised you, and that you are to keep all his commandments, and that he will set you in praise and in fame and in honor high above all nations that he has made, and that you shall be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised." --Deuteronomy 26:18-19

The 30-Day Blog Challenge, Day 21: On My Mind

Prompt: 5 things on your mind.

1) Thanksgiving
It's at this time of year that I really begin to think about what I'm thankful for. I know that I'm thankful for the obvious "Sunday School" answers: I'm thankful for my Savior, my home, my family, food, an education, etc. But what are the things that I'm thankful that I normally don't think about?

2) Friendships
When you attend an online school with thousands of kids all over the world, you'd think that you wouldn't feel very lonely. But this is one of the rare times that I truly do feel lonely. Part of that is because I'm an introvert, so I'm not very proactive when it comes to making friends and building relationships. I realized last week that in order to truly maintain friendships and relationships with people, you have to proactively seek out time with them, instead of waiting for natural events to give you the opportunity.

3) Talents
Some of you might be familiar with the mild stress, worry, and concern that comes from college prep in junior year of high school. Almost every college prep pamphlet, website, and program in the world tells high school juniors to ponder what they love doing, what they're talents are, and how to apply that to an expertise for adulthood. Obviously, it's kind of scary to think about. "What if I'm not as good at this as all the other kids my age are, so it's not as impressive to college entrance administrators?" "What if I turn out not to like this particular area of interest 10 years from now, even though I absolutely adore it now?" "How do I choose between these two interests?" "How do I turn as weird of an interest as this one into a career?" Lots of questions, lots of thinking, lots of unnecessary worry, because I know that I have a lot more time than I intuitively think. I just need to keep analyzing what I enjoy, and ask God to help me sort out what His plan is for me.

4) Reading
I used to really love reading a lot, but now I'm not finding the inspiration to do so. I think one of the problems is that I overwhelm myself with school reading by putting it off (because they're not always fun to read) and then I decide that I can't read anything because I feel guilty reading anything else but schoolwork. I'm figuring out that if I catch up and keep up, then I'll have a lot more time to read what I truly enjoy. But for right now, I'm very behind, and I need to focus hard on catching up.

5) 10,000 hours
Back to the talents again. An author named Malcolm Gladwell said that the approximate amount of time that a true expert spends in his field of work is about 10,000 hours, or around ten years. I think I know what I want to spend 10,000 hours in, but to look at that number is both inspiring and daunting at the same time. But that number keeps haunting me... Ten thousand hours of practice in order to achieve expertise. How will I spend ten thousand hours of my life?

Question for the Reader: What's on your mind?

"Jesus answered, 'Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.'" --John 11:9

Friday, November 1, 2013

November Resolutions

It's now time for another round of Monthly Resolutions: November 2013 Edition.

1) Drink at least 6 glasses of water every day.
According to health experts, humans should be drinking about 8 glasses of water per day. On most days, I find myself drinking about half of that, if at all. This is obviously not healthy, and I'd like to make that change.

2) Practice 120 minutes a week.
I've found that if I take a discipline and count the minutes that I'm practicing it and make a goal for a specific amount of minutes every week, it works very well for me.

3) Blog at least twice a week.
For obvious reasons. :)

4) Monastic Project
At school, I was assigned a project of reading through 1 Corinthians, and basically having "quiet time" in the morning or the evening and keeping track of what I learn. It's going to take some work, but I'd like to do well on it, and I think it will help me spiritually as well.

5) Catch-up on Omnibus Reading before Thanksgiving.
I'm behind. If I stick with the plan and persevere, I should be all caught up by Thanksgiving Day. What bliss that will be!

6) FINISH The 30 Day Blog Challenge.
What seemed like a simple blog project that would take no more than 40 days, turned into something that has now been unfinished as of about 4 months later. I need to finish this, guys. Only 10 more posts: I can do this.

7) Teach Youth Group
I'm teaching again on the 7th! So excited! Please pray that the Lord uses me to speak His words for what my peers need to hear from Him.

8) Schedule/Plan/Organize More Often
I spent a HUGE chunk of the summer organizing and making routines for myself so that I'd be a mean-green-academic-machine for this school year. binders are scarcely organized, my textbooks and notebooks are scattered all over the place: my school office, my bookshelves, my bedroom, my home computer area, my backpack...just everywhere. On top of that, I'm hardly ever using my planner (even though my online task list stays up to date) and things just aren't getting done the way they should! I'd like to be able to fix this, so I'll be well-organized when I get back to school after Thanksgiving Break.

9) Cut YouTube Time on Tuesdays and Sundays
Confession: I'm a big fan of youtube videos. I'm not at a point of obsession, but I watch it a little bit more than I probably should. I'd like to start cutting back on the 3-5 minute videos that quickly become an hour-long escapade.

10) Health
I'm trying harder to do more of cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and watching what I eat. I think if I stick to it, it will help me form really good healthy habits for the future.

These are a lot of goals, but I know that some of them will probably be a lot easier than they seem, because I've already gotten a head start in October. Here's to a great November!

Question for the Reader: What is a good habit you're trying to form?

"Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways." --Proverbs 4:26

(Link up to Kelli's She Learns As She Goes)

Photo credit: