Fiesta Cheese Dip Recipe and Review

This weekend I decided to break in my 1.5 Quart Crockpot. It’s blue! After scouring my Pinterest for recipes, I finally found something that I could make in my dorm, was cheap, and I wouldn’t get tired of eating. I decided on this recipe. I had to adapt the original recipe. Since I’m not a fan of fire-y hot spice and I have a budget to follow.

So here is my Fiesta Cheese Dip:

My Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 of a normal sized onion
  • 1 tsp Mrs. Dash’s Fiesta Lime seasoning
  • 1 10 0z can of Rotel diced tomatoes with lime juice and cilantro
  • 1 Lb Velveeta block

Directions:

  1. First, I microwaved the ground beef for 3 minutes. During the three minutes I chopped my half of the onion and cubbed the Velveeta.
  2. I then mashed the beef so that is was in small chunks in the crockpot. I added the onion and a teaspoon of Mrs. Dash’s seasoning.
  3. On high heat, the mixture sat and simmered for 10 minutes, being stirred occasionally.
  4. After adding the Rotel (I did not drain the Rotel) and cubbed Velveeta, I slow-cooked the dip for 45 minutes on low heat, like what was recommended.
  5. I stirred the mixture. The cubs were not melting like I expected, so I bumped up the heat to high for 20 minutes.
  6. After stirring periodically, the dip was done and ready to eat!

Review:

What a wonderful snacky lunch! Even though Fiesta Cheese Dip does not have any jalapeños, it still has quite the bite to it. I really enjoyed eating the dip and plan on making it again.

The next time I make it, I am going to cook the meat and onions together and I am going to cook it on high heat the entire time.

I think my little crockpot did wonderfully! ! I think I’m going to try something again in a couple of weeks.

What are some of your favorite cheese dip recipes? Do you have any suggestions for my next recipe?

The Truth in Banned Books

Books are meant to be read. I do not agree with censoring knowledge from our youth. When I was in 7th grade, I was reading at an upper high school level. I have to say, I would not be the person I am if I was unable to read and expand my mind at my own pace.

The week of September 21st-27th is banned book week.  I scoured my way through ALA’s list of popular banned books from the 2000s until today. So here are the banned books I have read:

  1. Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling banned because: anti-family, occult/Satanism, religious viewpoint, violence
  2. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck banned because: offensive language, violence
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee banned because: offensive language
  4. Gossip Girl (series) by Cecily von Ziegesar banned because: homosexuality, sexually explicit, offensive language,
  5. The Giver by Lois Lowry banned because: violence,
  6. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson banned because: language, religious veiw-point
  7. The Earth, My Butt and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Machler banned because: offensive language, sexually explicit,
  8. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley banned because: insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit
  9. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini banned because: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  10. Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause banned because: sexually explicit
  11. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien banned because: language, voilence
  12. Junie B. Jones (series) by Barbara Park banned because: I didn’t find a true reason.
  13. The Lovely Bones banned because: sexually explicit, and language
  14. Crank by Ellen Hopkins banned because: drugs, offensive language, and sexually explicit
  15. The Hunger Games (trilogy) by Suzanne Collins banned because: sexually explicit, and violence, anti-family, anti-ethic
  16. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer banned because: religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  17. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie banned because: language
  18. Looking for Alaska by John Green banned because: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group

It shocks me how revealing banned book reflect the problems of our culture. Many of the “sexually explicit” reasoning is because of a vague rape scene or a female teen embracing her sexuality. The Kite Runner‘s homosexuality too is rape. Many of the “offensive language”s are because the book is a product of its time. Quite a few of the violence is because of suicide. All of these things are apart of life.

Someday I want to write a book so true it is a banned book.

I used this ALA article and this one too.

Check your Packing List – Emotional Baggage

I check my packing list and boxes multiple times, making sure I have all of the essentials for my third year of college. I have my shower shoes, my caddy, my mattress cover, my free-read books, my school notebooks, my textbooks, and all of these things are important. But emotional baggage is just as important as physical baggage, if not more.

What I believe is emotionally important to bring with you to college:

At college, I encounter a lot of different people, so it’s important to keep an open-mind. Everyone comes in with a past, and different lessons they have learned. These lessons and experiences are usually vastly different from my own.

No question is stupid. I’m living in a dorm traditionally filled with freshmen. My neighbors will probably have lots of questions about campus, traditions, and life. These questions may seem tedious to me at times but to them it is all-new. These questions do not determine their intelligence or who they are as a person. I will have questions too. Everyone deserves respect.

The way you treat others is very important, but one need to remember to take care of yourself. Maintaining a positive outlook for the semester, social life, and self is important for my mental health. It’s the little things that count and ones mentality is one of them. Thinking positive and staying positive is something I struggle with, but it is a mentality that can be very beneficial.

Staying focused on the self, overscheduling is easy in college. Everything sounds fun, and inspiring, so it’s easy to over commit. Overcommitting can make anyone’s grades and health suffer. It is okay to say no. It is easier to say no once I establish that I can’t give it the attention it needs.

These are the four traits I am packing in my emotional baggage. Whether it is your first year or your third, your emotional outlook impacts your experience far greater than your physical possessions.

Did I miss anything? If you have any additional thoughts, please comment. I would love to hear what you pack emotionally when you go to college or work.

The Scare

Have you ever had a moment that changed the way you thought about everything: your life choices, the way you speak to people? A few weeks ago, I did. 

I went to my family doctor for a simple procedure, the removal of four moles. At an earlier appointment, she was sure they were normal. But once she got a better look at them, she decided they needed testing for cancer.

She told me, this was only precautionary. She just wanted to be sure. And my mentality changed. It wasn’t an instantaneous alteration. These changes popped up sporadically.

It all started almost a week after the extraction. I still hadn’t heard from pathology. I was at work and I had just finished scanning a woman’s items and was applying coupons, when the computer would not accept a coupon. She did not have the right amount of the product. She threw a rich white woman tantrum. All I could think was, Well, at least you aren’t dying of cancer. It came out of nowhere.

And there it began. That one thought spurred many more: If I have cancer, can I still go to school?; how will I pay for treatment?. As I worked through the day, I just wanted to leave and devote myself to my passions: writing and art.

Not only did I begin to question my life more, I became grateful for the things I had. The material: house, college education. But I was once again reminded why those things don’t matter. It’s the dogs barking when I get home and licking my feet. It’s being able to text my parents about the wonderful breakfast they made me. It’s about eating a wonderful peach. Those little things are what matter most to me.

I believe everyone gets these moments of clarity, and I think they define us. I have had a few so far in my life, when I needed them the most.

With my third year of college beginning, I have been dwelling on the future, unable to let myself live in the present. This scare jerked me into the present and reminded me of what is important to me.

My moles came back normal, but my thought process and priorities are jostled, hopefully back into focus.

It’s not about the fear of death. It’s about my time on this earth. Use it wisely.

Whovian moment

If you know anything about Doctor Who or know a Whovian, you are aware that Series 8 of New Who aired just a day ago. I have only been a Whovian for a year now—Thanks to my wonderful Doctor Who course taught by one of my favorite professors. The show has inspired me as a person and as a writer.

In honor of the Twelfth Doctor, here are my 12 favorite episodes of New Who (in order by air date):

  1. “The Shakespeare Code”, series 3 episode 2, Tenth Doctor and Martha

    As a fan: Let’s face it Martha is one of the strongest female characters of the show and in this episode her independence and wit is highlighted by her interactions with William Shakespeare.   

    As a writer: Three words: William. Shakespeare. Sonnets.

  2. “Silence in the Library”, series 4 episode 9, Tenth Doctor and Donna

     As a fan: Meet River Song. This is our first glimpse at River Song, the Doctor’s lover. It is very comedic with their interactions, along with the sibling-like teasing of the Doctor and Donna. It also takes place in a library, so how can it not get more awesome.

     As a writer: This episode and its companion share a single story-line of the universes largest library and what lives in the shadows. While being able to be watched independently, it is part of a much larger picture involving River Song. I don’t want to give any spoilers here, but River becomes very important as the Doctor’s journey continues.

  3. The Waters of Mars” series 4 episode 16, the autumn special, Tenth Doctor

    As a fan: The Tenth Doctor hits his breaking point. He discovers the line he can never cross and while watching Ten’s story progress, this defines him. Ten is all about emotion. He is the angsty teen of the Doctors, but it is done so well.

    As a writer: These on the edge scenes are written and portrayed wonderfully. The emotion grabs the watcher and chokes you just as it does Ten. It is a model for dialoging emotions.

  4. “The End of Time” series 4 episode 17, Tenth Doctor’s Goodbye

    As a fan: Goodbye Ten. Ten has the most conclusive storyline compared to the others (though I have not watched Eleven’s departure). He says farewell to all of his companions, giving himself and the viewer closure.

     As a writer: Though some of the ‘goodbye’s are technically clichés. They are clichés used right. These scenes do not leave large plot-holes, but tidy them up nicely.

  5. Vincent and the Doctor” series 5 episode 10, Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond

    As a fan: Are you crying yet? At just the name, most Whovians tear up. Another episode spent crying, but how beautiful it is. It also clarifies so changing history bits that are questioned throughout the show.

     As a writer: This episode puts a creative ‘what if’ into history. What if Vincent Van Gogh was not crazy, but seeing the un-earthly? An episode that can be watched independently but is character development for a strong, lasting character, Amy Pond.

  6. “The Pandorica Opens” series 5 episode 12, Eleventh Doctor and the Ponds

     As a fan: Amy Pond and Rory are my favorite couple in the show—If you glance down the post you will see more of them. This episode and “The Big Bang” define their relationship.

     As a writer: The Ponds are monumental to the Eleventh Doctor. Amy and Rory are probably the most constant characters in the Doctor’s life, excluding River. It is fascinating watching their relationship grow and adapt as each character undergoes the same and different events.

  7. “The Big Bang” series 5 episode 13, Eleventh Doctor and the Ponds

     As a fan: The Last Centurian.

     As a writer: see above.

  8. The Girl who Waited” series 6 episode 10, Eleventh Doctor and the Ponds

    As a fan: Demon’s Run is what this should have been called. Another episode centered on the Ponds. I just can’t help myself. I love them so much.

     As a writer: What. A. Plot. Twist…Take note writers.

  9. “The Lodger” series 6 episode 12, Eleventh Doctor and Craig

      As a fan: When Amy and Eleven are split up, the Doctor is left to his own devices and ends up living with Craig. Craig is a normal English guy doing normal English things. This episode just shows how charismatic the Doctor can be.

      As a writer: Any episode with Craig is hilarious. This (and “Closing Time”) comedic relief episode is much needed after the emotional and plot twisting overload Eleven experienced with the Ponds. These episodes are artfully done and full of intelligent humor.

  10. “Closing Time” series 6 episode 13, Eleventh Doctor and Craig

    As a fan: Cybermen have come again, but a father’s love can save them all. Craig is now a dad. The Doctor speaks baby and calls his son, Stormagedon. This episode is worth a watch or two.

      As a writer: Again, smart humor and Stormy is adorable.

  11. “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” series 7 episode 2, Eleventh Doctor and the Ponds

    As a fan: So many historical figures are on set at once. The Doctor gets around, but who knew he had so many powerful connections. This episode also holds a place in my heart because on the two appearances of Harry Potter actors, Arthur Weasely and Angus Filch. It doesn’t hurt that the dinosaurs are adorable too.

     As a writer: The modern day Ponds interacting with historical figures is very intriguing and makes one think of how the future would view who we idolize.

  12. “The Day of the Doctor” 50th Anniversary Special, All of the Doctors

    As a fan: Let me repeat. FIFTY YEARS! Doctor Who has been on screen for 50 years. It is a monumental time and has a monumental episode to match.

     As a writer: The interweaving of plots and inside jokes in this episode is mind-blowing, especially when most of them do not occur in New Who but in Old Who as well. I appreciated all that was written after watching the entirety of New Who.

 

So there you have it, my favorite twelve episodes. Doctor Who may appear too “science-fiction” for many to even begin watching, but it is much more than that. It is about people, the relationships we create and the impact we have.

 

I know that a lot of this was me fangirling over Doctor Who, but I hope I have inspired you to take a look into this wonderful show. (It is available on Netflix.)

Thanks for the inspiration, David! 

 

NOTE: I will now be posting on Wednesdays, because of school and my schedule. I will have a post for you Wednesday.

 

 

Being a Cashier

Hello, everyone! Man, it has been awhile but have no fear. I am here, alive, and not nearly as poor as I was. (Thanks to working all of the time.) So, I present to you a longer than normal post about my summer job.

An overview of being a cashier:

  • Being a cashier isn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be. So here are a few things I have found out about making a cashier’s job easier:
    • I use the baskets at Target all of the time, but after working long hours as a cashier, unloading a basket is very tiring. I have to say I am of average height but baskets are too tall for me to reach into. Unloading your basket can make a cashier’s day. I like to tell guests who unload their basket for me that I greatly appreciate it.
    • Exact change is awesome. Random pennies are not. It may seem easy to type numbers and press a few buttons, but I make more mistakes when someone hands me 20 cents when they owe 35 cents. It costs us both time and embarrassment.
    • Along those lines, the conveyer belt does not discriminate. It eats everything. Yes, even a guest’s credit card. When things are lost in there, they may not come back. Please use the little counter provided.
    • Oh man, coupons are good when used correctly, but can be tricky. The fine print and the computer are very specific. The picture does not always match the description. You might need two of the products or an additive before the coupon works. Coupons can be a cashier’s torture chamber, because we can’t always help you no matter how much we want to do so.
    • Purchasing big items is fun and exciting and I promise we can do this easily if you keep it in the cart and let me use the extendable scanner.
    • And my final soapbox point, piling things does not help you or me. It just makes them topple. Think “no” to piling.
  • School supplies suck.
  • Guest service is all about guess work. It is not cut and dry and every situation is different. The line is always long and I am usually working alone. I am sorry that your wait was so long but please do not take it out on me.
  • I have never had a better summer job. Seriously. I have worked a lot of hours, which is what I wanted. Management is above anything I ever had. They are involved the going-on s of the store and available whenever I need their help. It’s such a relief to have a manager who manages.
  • My “People” skills have improved beyond measure. Faking nice isn’t that hard, but being actually nice makes my day fun. It doesn’t take much to note the dog food on the conveyer belt and ask the guest what dog they have. It’s fun to get to know other walks of life. It gives insight into humanity and helps me grow as a member of this world and a writer.
  • It’s nice to have money in the bank. It’s as simple as that. I stuck to a budget of “fun money” all summer. I’ve never had to do that before. I’m used to spending my parents’ money for my leisure activities. I’m proud that I was able to stick to a budget, even if it was for recreational things like movie tickets.

This summer has been great. It has pushed my personal limits and taught me new things about people. Being a cashier may not make my work resume very much in the future but I am glad I was able to get the experience and personal growth.

I will write to you Sunday,

Jessica

 

Note: Awesome Food I’ve made recently: Chimichangas–I used beef instead; Monster Cookies–Mini M&Ms work awesome

Summary Sunday: Camp

I went to camp a lot in elementary and middle school. Being an only child, it was one of the few times I was able to see my friends who didn’t live near by. Sports camp, music camp, church camp, and girl scout camp, I went to them all. It didn’t matter if it’s day camp or overnight, whether I’m working it or attending. I had some bad times. Once I lost all of my belongings in a thunderstorm. But I had some good ones too.

This next week I will be a counselor for Summer Speech Institute and Broadcasting Bootcamp. So in honor of that here are a few of my favorite memories of camp:

  • The first time I went to camp. I attended family camp at Camp Sacajawea. Unfortunately, my dad could not come with my mom and I, so my mom’s best friend came with us instead. I don’t remember much to be honest. All I remember was spending the night in our little cabin counting the bugs with my flashlight. My mom and godmother remember it a lot better. I love hearing them tell stories of it like when they got lost going to the latrines one night. That first experience did not deter me away from camp. I attended Camp Sac for the next 4 summers.

  • I spent many summers, spring recharges, and fall recharges at Riverside Lutheran Bible Camp. My favorite activity was playing Bonkers. Bonkers was a tag type of game where the counselors tried to chase down the campers with socks full of powder while we tried to complete tasks. There’s not a specific game that has any strong feelings. I loved the exhilaration of being chased, the fascination of working my mind to complete riddles.

 

  • Dorian Music Camp was one of the best thing that happened to me in junior high. For one week my life revolved around creating, creating music, art and memories. My favorite summer was my 2nd year at Dorian. I didn’t do band that year, instead I took an art class which focused on metal working and design. I spent the week carving designs out of Styrofoam.  Even in my free time, I sketched ideas for my final project–a medallion. I finally decided on a simple but abstract design.  Hidden within little half squares was the word life. I was and still am proud of it.

 

  • My Girl Scout troop was one of the oldest active troops in our area. All of our moms were on the organizational committee of Day Camp so it was only natural that we stepped up and became more and more involved. Once in high school, we were a major part of Day Camp. We helped pick the theme for the year, attended meetings in January, and did everything we could to make that year a great year. I put a lot of time, energy and effort into the camp and it was a wonderful feeling to have it run so smoothly each year.

Today was day 2 of camp. It’s enlightening to see the campers learn and make friends. I can’t wait to see what the next three days hold.