Music That Moves Me: Winter Mix

Winter has come far too soon this year! I’ve made countless playlists thus far to make the walks to and from class seem that much shorter because I already can’t put up with the snow and the cold. This edition of Music That Moves Me has a mix of acoustic jams and newer releases because my mood is kind of all over the place at the moment: I’m somewhere in between wanting to be mellow and curled up in a warm ball until the semester ends and barhopping on the weekends. Here’s a little bit of my iPod at the moment:

Jealous – Nick Jonas

So little Jonas appears to have broken out of his shell. It’s kind of refreshing to see someone coming into adulthood, and shedding the largely fabricated “perfect” image, but not in such a way that is overtly shocking or completely socially disruptive. Jealous is just a feel good song all around — We’ve all been there, feeling some sense of jealously, justified or not, over a significant other, despite knowing how much the other truly cares. I think he nailed it with this single.

Blank Space – Taylor Swift

Honestly, I love to hate TSwift. But, here we are, yet again, when she precisely nails my life and the lives of twentysomethings everywhere. I wish I could refuse to link to the video here because, frankly, it’s something I wish I could un-see. I think it dismisses everything I initially felt about the song, and therefore I’m okay with pretending she never made it. In reality, Blank Space captures the wanderlust-loving, ever-confused, and ever-ambitious young adult that just wants love…or a little fun. I’m not a huge fan of the rest of the album, surprisingly co-written with Lorde, but I am going to keep dancing in my car every time this tune comes on. Also, I am convinced this song is going to end up on an infamous list of “misheard song lyrics”. What exactly is a “Starbucks lover”…? ;)

You and Me – You + Me

I don’t even think this song needs much of an explanation. The first single from a collaboration album between two of my favorite performers — Dallas Green and P!nk. The twos’ voices pair unbelievably well together, as previously demonstrated by What Makes A Man, and I don’t think I’d want City and Colour’s front-man to do an entire album with anyone else. You and Me has simplistic lyrics, yet provides all the feels.

Break Up In a Small Town – Sam Hunt

Break-up anthem of the year, at your service. Sam Hunt crashed into the country music scene in 2014 with two hot singles and the recent release of his new album that is, much like him, smoking.  Break Up In a Small Town gives listeners almost as much raw emotion as Redneck Crazy did in 2013 by flat out laying out how difficult it is to go through a break up with someone you’re bound to see all the time. The song is somewhere on the strange yet amazing spectrum between R. Kelly meets Drake meets Bro-country and I love every second.

L.A. LOVE (la la) – Fergie

Fergie decided to casually slip back onto the scene, sans the Black Eyed Peas, to release a killer new dance song. L.A. LOVE, in my opinion, is basically Fergie’s way of saying “Hey Iggy, step aside for the one who has been in the game far longer.” L.A. LOVE’s chorus is kind of mediocre, but still fun. The verses though, are where Fergie really goes in and I can’t help but get excited for her. She’s been at it for a long time, but still one of the best women in the industry doing what she does. Also, if you haven’t ever heard her sing a cappella, it’s worth a search on YouTube. You won’t be disappointed.

I’m Not the Only One – Sam Smith

Definitely not another feel good song of 2014, Sam Smith continues to whine ever so pleasantly about relationship woes. If you’ve ever been cheated on, or your significant other really just dropped the ball on romance in a relationship, this song really hits home. While the video is slightly more dramatic than my tastes, think TSwift nuts, this song reissues the sanctity of monogamy and marriage, and reinforces how worlds shatter when those institutions are violated.

Fraternity Cooler Painting 101 Updated

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your cooler! So this is Take Two on Fraternity Cooler Painting 101. It’s been almost two years since my first attempt, and I’ve learned quite a bit since then! The cooler I’m working on today is not associated with a fraternity, but still requires the same process. The following post outlines how to paint a cooler from start to finish. Please do not hesitate to comment with questions! Happy cooler painting!

Materials:

  • Cooler
  • Sand paper/sander
  • Primer spray paint (If you want!)
  • Mod Podge (I used matte finish as well as glitter)
  • Weatherproofing sealant
  • Pencil
  • Sharpies (Fine point and regular)
  • Paint pens – Black, Silver
  • Acrylic paint, many colors
  • Stencils, Printed images

Project Duration:

In total, this project took three weeks to complete. I probably spent around 15 hours total painting and the rest of the time was left for the sides of the cooler to dry.

Step One: Purchasing Your Cooler

The recipient of your cooler may specify the style of cooler he/she prefers, especially if your date already has one. Your options include large and small sizes, coolers with wheels and those without, as well as round coolers and those with drains. For this cooler, I elected to use a standard Igloo cooler without wheels and a non-removable lid with handles. The one I purchased from Wal-Mart was an Igloo 48-Quart Breeze Ice Chest and retailed at $18.87, not too bad! See the cooler listing on Wal-Mart’s site here.

Ultimately, it’s your call which style of cooler to use. I have found that wheels are difficult to paint and often result in your hard work chipping off very easily as it is dragged around. Round coolers are also unique but they limit the types of things that can be kept in the coolers as well as the room for design you have. This cooler proved slightly challenging to paint because of the over the top handle — just be careful when moving the cooler side to side to avoid getting it in wet paint, or chipping around the hinges.

Step Two: Choosing Design

How well do you know your cooler recipient? I was comfortable choosing designs that I knew my recipient would like because I know him very well. If you are going with a friend or someone you don’t know well to a formal, ask them! This is your special gift to them since they are taking you on an amazing trip so make sure you pick things they like!

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At this point, I selected a color scheme before choosing the images I wanted to put on my cooler. I used acrylic paint I already had as well as purchased some new colors that I know he likes. Next, I printed out images of some of his favorite things including horse jockey silks and the University of Kentucky Wildcat. If you are comfortable drawing these images and icons freehanded, be my guest. Generally, I printed the images I wanted to use on regular printer paper and cut them out to be mod-podged onto the cooler’s surface later.

While you’re free to choose whatever design you think your date would like, I would reserve space on the cooler for your cooler recipient’s name and the event for which they are receiving the cooler i.e. a fraternity formal. These items are extremely special to fraternity boys and they’ll appreciate having a token to remember this event. Other suggestions include his political party symbols, his favorite alcohol, beach scenes/sunsets, state flags, song lyrics, & much more!

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Step Three: Getting Started

Before you begin painting, there are a few crucial measures you need to take before getting creative to ensure the durability of your cooler. First, use your sand paper and a sander (if accessible) to sand down all of the surfaces of the cooler you plan to paint. Sanding will help the painting adhere better to the plastic. Dust off the cooler before applying any paint because it will have dust from sanding. The first time around, I took my cooler outside and sprayed its entirety with a primer spray paint. I used Krylon White Gloss Fusion Spray Paint, 15 oz (purchased at Wal-Mart for around $4) because this product is specifically made for adhering to plastic and making the surface paintable and long-lasting. See it here. The sides of the cooler should be covered completely and let dry for at least 24 hours before the detail painting begins. **It was also really nice having a red cooler to begin with because you could easily see when you’d covered all of it with the primer.** This time, however, I did not prime my cooler because I sanded it very thoroughly and applied a thin coat of white acrylic paint over all of the surfaces. This worked just fine for priming the surface to hold paint — just depends on your space and personal preference!

Step Four: Detail Work

It’s finally time for the fun to begin! Painting the sides of the cooler is a tedious task because each has to be done one at a time to allow paint to dry. You can start with any side you like, I chose the top because it was a nice flat surface to begin with. I began by painting a solid layer of a background color all over the surface. I then added the image outline of jockey silks I wanted to use after the paint had dried using Mod Podge as the glue. I painted and sketched over the printed outline to make it look more hand drawn. Additionally, I free handed the bowties on the sides of the top. When the design was finished, I covered the entire side with another layer of Mod Podge and let dry over night. You CAN really have too much Mod Podge over your designs! Although, it will help seal your work and protect it from chipping off as acrylic paint tends to peel, just thin layers to avoid printed designs from bubbling and trapping air! I also recommend Mod Podging in a very well ventilated area – I did this entire project in my room and did not realize how bad the fumes were until I left! GO OUTSIDE! (Dorm rooms/apartments are not the best spaces for mod podging and spray painting!)

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Continue to paint/paste your images onto the cooler, side by side, without forgetting to Mod Podge each side when it is completed. Be careful around the lid of your cooler, you don’t want the paint to seal it shut! If you have wheels as well, paint around them with caution so paint does not dry in them and prevent it from being rolled! Open the lid of your cooler before mod podging and spray painting — your paint with chip if it dries shut. I advise painting well onto the bottom side of the cooler as well because the thickness of the paint you are applying makes it more likely to chip and peel off and having the paint extend toward the bottom of the cooler gives you more protection. Because each side of your cooler will likely be a different color, you will need some way to connect the sides without them looking slopping. I opted to paint bowties onto the corners to hide the lines where the colors of each side meet. Bowties are a very common corner trick and very simple to do, I always freehand these – I have also seen golf balls, needlepoint belts, gold tees, beer bottles, and more.

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Step Five: Finishing Touches

After you have painted all sides of the cooler to your liking, one last coat of Mod Podge won’t hurt anything. Previously, I also painted a cute saying on the bottom of the inside of the cooler that read, “If you can read this, call a pledge” as a fun way to spice up the white inside when you’re attending a fraternity formal. As a final sealant against weather, sand, or whatever else your cooler might encounter, spray your cooler entirely with Krylon Clear Matte Finish that can also be purchased at Wal-Mart for around $4.74. See the spray here. Once your cooler has dried completely, allow 24 hours at least, it’s ready to be given to its recipient!

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I Still Hate Robin Thicke

I’m starting to think I should rename my blog to “My Unpopular Opinion.” The more and more I become involved with my Gender and Women’s Studies major, the more I grow frustrated with popular culture and our society’s overall tendency to gloss over issues of gender and sex discrimination and violence. Racial issues are at the forefront of media headlines and news stories, but why are we hiding victims’ stories about instances of rape, sexual assault, and harassment? Sure, we want to protect victims and their privacy, but where is the justice? Just this week, one of my classes watched the documentary Invisible War about sexual assault and violence committed mainly against women, but men as well, in the United States Armed Forces. Issues of indoctrination associated with institutions such as the military make it difficult for female victims to report crimes and see justice. If we can’t make substantial headway in this sector of sexual violence, where can we start?

Please stop telling there is no such thing as rape culture. I’m still not finished with “Blurred Lines” because THAT is the epitome of rape culture in the United States: a song and music video that blatantly excuses and dismisses sexual rights and further promotes desensitization to media that perpetuates violent and discriminatory language and action. Rape culture is the songs on the radio, the tweets we scroll past, and the commercials we watch that reinforce rigid gender roles, the subordination and shaming of women, and allusions of non-consensual intercourse. Rape culture is not only the ACTIVE promotion of media that insinuates rape as permissible, it is the PASSIVITY of media consumers who tolerate, excuse, and otherwise ignorantly redistribute discriminatory media.

So, for those of you that told me to “back off” Robin Thicke, did you miss his most recent music video “Get Her Back”? Maybe Pharrell had a large hand in the composition of the “Blurred Lines” lyrics and video, but Thicke CHOSE to perform those words and MADE MONEY singing a “kind of rapey” tune. As for “Get Her Back”, Thicke has truly outdone himself in true misogynistic form. In the video, Thicke croons about his now ex-wife Paula Patton and his desperation upon losing her. The video features fabricated text messages regarding why the relationship failed. Thicke insistently sings about his quest to rekindle the relationship, despite the female character’s (portraying Paula) attempts to distance herself from Thicke’s character, including a denial of intercourse. The video is simplistic, with dark lighting and grey tones throughout, but frequently cuts to Thicke losing control and displaying bursts of anger and frustration that the woman won’t take him back. The blood appearing on his face as the video progresses implies a physical altercation of some sort, be it self-inflicted, and there is a blatant allusion to suicide because the woman in the video is unresponsive to his pleas. Bravo, Thicke. You have only dug a deeper hole.

Thicke’s summer release brings me to Miguel’s latest single, “How Many Drinks”. Miguel, with Kendrick Lamar, sings here about using alcohol as a motivator for a woman to come home with and sleep with him. “How many drinks will it take you to leave with me? // “Back of my mind I’m hoping you say 2 or 3” // “I ain’t leaving alone” – Yet, Miguel seems to know he’s in the wrong… “One question, am I moving too fast?” If we know there really are no “blurred lines” when it comes to consent, why does he need alcohol to change her mind and persuade her to engage in sex with him?

No worries, because rape culture is only perpetuated in hip-hop. NO! May I present Maroon 5’s newest single, “Animal”. “Baby, I’m preying on you tonight” // “Hunt you down eat you alive” // “Maybe you think that you can hide” // “I can smell your scent from miles”. We’ve moved past rape and entered an entirely new realm of sexual harassment and violence in this stalker anthem. Levine, while reducing women to some form of savage, carnal prey, manages to actually support active stalking and relationship violence, despite the woman’s initial ignorance of his stalking behavior and avoidance of the perpetrator in the club scene. Nothing in the song’s lyrics suggest that the bloody sex scene in the video’s conclusion would be consensual, yet it appears to be so, if it is supposed to be real at all or merely a sadistic fantasy of the stalker. Whether this video attempts to play out a carnal or BDSM fantasy or not, the video is dehumanizing and discredits actual victims of stalking whose perpetrators stalk, harass, and even harm their victims. THIS is rape culture.

Kappa Delta Big Little Week and Reveal

I can finally call myself a Big! After a few suspenseful weeks, I am finally able to call my sweet Laura my little one. Our reveal was adorable – all of the families dressed up in a different theme and gave a special matching outfit to the newest little. Our family’s theme was Risky Business. I’ve done a whole heck of a lot of crafting these past few weeks, and I think it all paid off when I saw her face when she first saw her basket! Below are a few photos from reveal in addition to several of the crafts I made my little!

With love from the KΔstle,

Sarah Alexandra

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Education Abroad: University of Kentucky EnKompass Blog

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I was on loan last week to another blog! My internship in the University of Kentucky Office of Education Abroad has provided yet another blogging platform for me. I am currently on a team that collaborates and writes about our … Continue reading

Back to School Safety with SABRE

9:37 p.m. Tuesday. I am walking from my car to my residence hall, less than a quarter of a mile. The sidewalks are well-lit, but it is already dark in mid-September. I clutch my keys between my knuckles. There are several students walking on both sides of the street, yet I still feel like I have to be on-guard at all times. Anyone would, after the latest crime bulletin which always arrives hours after the fact via an email account few students check. Last night’s email recounted a strong-arm robbery with one female victim and three female assailants. I shiver at the thought of such an altercation; I can only pray that I could muster some strength for self-defense if I ever found myself in such a situation.

Violence on college campuses is at an all-time high. Despite safety precautions taken by universities to protect students, especially those that have to commute to and from campus alone at night, instances, both reported and undocumented, continue to occur to both men and women. In general, 1 in 5 women will be a victim of sexual assault on their college campus. That is to say, more than 20% of the more than 12 million women expected to attend college this year will be a victim of sexual assault. Furthermore, the 2014 Presidential Task force estimates that more than 10,000 college students will experience aggravated assault or robbery each year on college campuses. September and October, in particular, are highlighted by law enforcement and recognized as the most dangerous time for students on college campuses. These two months have the highest amount of injuries, accidents, and deaths than any other time of the year. During these crucial first two months of school, it is essential for students to be extra cautious as they take night classes or while learning the campus layout, especially for new students who may be less familiar with campus safety resources.

Recently, I have had the pleasure of working with and using the products of SABRE, the leading provider of personal safety tools worldwide. SABRE is trusted as the #1 choice of law enforcement professionals and recommended by campus safety officers at my home university. SABRE has a mission to educate and advocate for the personal safety of college-aged students by empowering them to take control of their own personal security. Additionally, the company wants to help college students to be free to enjoy and maximize their experience on campus by providing them with the tools and knowledge they need to be informed. I have utilized SABRE Pepper Gel, in addition to the dorm alarm system, to help protect myself in the event I encounter a violent situation on campus. These products, shown below, are incredibly affordable and are specifically designed for collegiate women for their ease of use and effectiveness.

Not only does SABRE design products for campus safety, the company has created a College Safety Program that brings representatives from the company to YOUR campus to talk about personal safety during college. Use the following link to find out more information on how to bring a SABRE program manager to campus for an engaging personal safety education presentation: http://www.sabrered.com/collegetours.

SABRE is helping women “be prepared, not scared” on their college campus this year, as are numerous other campus organizations working to combat increased violence, robbery, and sexual assault of students. Being mindful of the times you choose to walk alone on campus, events you choose to attend at night, and considering options offered for student safety by your university are all steps students can take to avoid becoming a victim of campus crime. SABRE products offer an additional sense of support for intelligent students who make wise safety decisions, yet are still at risk of victimization.

Be sure to follow SABRE on their various social media accounts for up-to-date product information and additional college safety tips:

Facebook: SABRE-Security Equipment Corporation
Twitter: @SabreRed
Instagram: @SabreSafety

 

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In the meantime

“How weird and wonderful you are”
How special you are for your own experiences, your trials, your tribulations,
How unique your confidence and exhibition.
Fervent, but satisfying,
Covert, but beguiling.

What beautiful, intimate desire you have,
For feeling, for belonging, for acceptance,
For what I can offer you, with no admissions.
I’m sorry my collar is a little damp,
I’ll cry quietly from now on.

We’re catching feelings like fireflies.
Yet you found me there,
Sitting in the cheap seats of the summer,
Windowless, but not without conviction.
Is love as blind as faith?

I surrendered my beliefs in expectation,
You snatched them up and buried them.
I am falling, falling,
What a cosmic attraction.
Falling in and out of love, like I got on and off the bus,
To and from the authentic cheap seats.

But mine is just one voice,
Tell me not what, but how you feel.
This isn’t a time to discuss authenticity.
So place your curve on mine,
And we’ll twist and mold til morning.

Best YouTube Zumba Choreography Videos

Everyone says that when summer comes around, it’s time to get into shape. For me, my time to kick start a new workout regimen is fall when school starts. My life gets so busy and hectic that I hardly ever have time to eat right, let alone make it to the gym. This fall, I’ve been consistently doing Zumba, my favorite workout of all time, and I’ve found some super awesome videos on YouTube (free!) that you can do wherever you are, at your own pace. Whether it’s 8am or midnight, Zumba is convenient if you’ve got the space and energy, and love to dance like me. I even motivated myself to keep this up by getting some new workout gear. Target was having a GREAT sale last weekend, and I got everything here for just $40! Whatever it takes to motivate yourself, do it! It’s worth it not to let your body fall to the wayside in such a busy time, even though winter clothes might hide the parts of you that need a little love! Stay fit, XOXO.

With love from the cave,

Sarah Alexandra

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Sarah’s YouTube Zumba Favorites:

An Open Letter to the Fall 2014 Pledge Class

Dear new members,

After a strenuous week of parading around campus in heels, smiling your biggest smiles, and shedding a tear or two during preference, I hope you’ve come to find your second home. In your new sorority, you have a new set of sisters to lean on that will support you unconditionally. You might not think you need that support, but there will come a time and your sisters will be there for you like you never imagined.

I hope you ran home on Bid Day to be greeted with love and appreciation by your chapter actives who selected YOU for membership in this national organization. Your unique qualities stood out to your new sisters and you were selected with a purpose. Revel in this idea, because you are appreciated more than you know. Do not take your new membership lightly, however. Your coveted attributes and talents will be put to use to enrich your new sisterhood. You will be expected to contribute and participate actively in chapter activities, academic, philanthropic, and social, if you want your chapter to give back to you.

In just a short time, you will receive your very first letters. Whether stitched onto a jersey or etched into a pencil, your new letters represent this organization locally and nationally. Wearing letters is a privilege that unites us across the country and further promotes solidarity among members. Your actions and attitude while wearing letters should reflect the pride you feel for obtaining membership in this organization. You are not entitled to your letters, they are a gift given graciously to you when you were selected for membership. Should you choose to disrespect the tradition and values of this sisterhood, your letters can be revoked. Be mindful of what you say, do, and promote in and out of your letters because they are now a reflection of more than yourself.

As an active member, I promise you the following things:

A life-changing experience — if you let it. Sorority membership might offer you certain social status on your college campus or networking opportunities in your future career, but most importantly, your pledge to this sisterhood and to your new sisters is a bond for life. Utilizing traditions upheld for hundreds of years, your pledge to this sorority serves as your commitment to preserve history, in addition to joining an empowering organization of collegiate women. Your affiliation with this sisterhood is life-long, and from it you can reap the benefits of support, friendship, prestige, and dedication.

To offer guidance as I see fit. As an older, active member with much more insight and experience with chapter business and workings, I promise to never undermine your age, opinions, or status as a sister. I promise to never call you a “baby” during your pledging process. You are a valuable new member, and beautiful, young adult who will be respected during the new member education period. Although this affiliation may seem foreign at first, I promise to earnestly answer any questions you have and to do my best to lead by positive example.

Opportunity to find your niche. Whether your new chapter has 50 or 300 members, there are responsibilities for everyone. While our organization must answer to Nationals, we operate as a largely independent entity that is internally responsible for our own activities and events. There are numerous leadership positions, both in front of and behind the scenes of chapter members and events that require special women to execute various tasks. In this sisterhood, you have the opportunity to explore various chapter operations and apply your personal strengths as you see fit.

Ultimately, you have been selected for your potential to positively contribute to this sisterhood. You will pay for membership, yes, but your dues fund the local and national maintenance of this organization and contribute to the events hosted by your chapter. As a new sorority affiliate, you have immense responsibility and likewise immense potential to enrich your sisterhood. In your new home, I hope you take the time to learn about the history you are now a part of and are working to preserve. You are embarking on an incredibly unique experience, one that you will share with the other special members of your pledge class. Enjoy this time and take every chance you have to meet older members; their experiences and wisdom may shock you. This membership, though cliche, is certainly more than just four years; it is for a lifetime. With this, I welcome you with open arms to your new family and home away from home.

XOXO,
Your chapter