A Cookie Recipe

Recently I tried my hand at baking cookies, and found out I’m apparently somehow good at it? Which is surprising, because in general I am a TERRIBLE cook. But by popular demand, I’ve decided to post the cookie recipe here!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Warning – these contain enough sugar to cause diabetes. Because that’s how Southerners cook. 

FIRST: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (sorry ya’ll, I have no idea what that is in Celsius.)

Ingredients (in order of adding to the bowl, with instructions beside them):

In any order: 

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

1 cup of packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

1 cup of all-purpose flour

Now add (in any order):

1 egg

1/4 cup of water

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Mix everything together. (I used a random spoon because I don’t have anything else. A whisk would probably have worked better. But really, use whatever you want.)

Next: Add 3 cups of oats (the type that take 15-20min to cook, not the quick oats. I think they are called steel cut? (UPDATE – I have been informed they are called ‘Old-fashion Oats‘) Really ya’ll – I am a terrible cook, I don’t know how these actually taste good. I blame the 1.5 cups of sugar.)

NextMelt 1/2 a cup of salted butter (normally will be 1 stick of butter. You are technically suppose to use 3/4 cups, but that comes out uneven if you get a box of 4 butter sticks. So 1/2 cup works. ALSO – You can use unsalted and then just add 1 teaspoon of salt later, but I’m lazy so I use salted butter.) Pour the melted butter over the oats. Mix together.

Next: Add 1 or 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips, depending on how chocolatey you want it to be (I’m a chocoholic, I add 2 cups.) You don’t add the chips before the butter because they will melt (which is fine, but harder to ball up later for the cookie sheet!) Mix together.

Finally: Put the cookies on a baking sheet, put them into the preheated (350degrees) oven, leave in for 12-15minutes, enjoy delicious diabetes cookies!

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The REAL North Carolina – and My Third Tattoo

Whenever someone asks me, “Where are you from?” My response is rarely ‘the United States of America.’ More often than not, I will quickly answer ‘North Carolina’, assuming that whoever has asked will know that NC is part of the USA. This is a strange habit, though – when asked where they are from, most people will normally respond with the country, not the state or city in which they live(d). Any people who know me will also know: I often have to explain the strange behaviors United States citizens have. This is one of them.

 
SHORT HISTORY LESSON: When the US was formed, there was a large debate between two factions – the federalists and the anti-federalists. The federalists believed there should be a Federal government which is responsible for many things – like what you see in Canada. On the other hand, the anti-federalists believed the federal government should be kept as small as possible and regulations should be left up to the state governments with little or no federal interference. This is ultimately where the bill of rights came from – it was a compromise between the federalists and anti-federalists for how the US government would work (specifically note Amendment 10 – “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”[If you want more of a history lesson, more information can be found here.]

 

So this leads me to my point. Why do I always answer ‘North Carolina’ first? In short – the struggle between the federalists and anti-federalists has left a lasting impression on the American people (especially the South, where most of the anti-federalists were from – ask me about it if you want another history lesson). So now: first and foremost, I see myself as a North Carolina native, born and bred within driving distance of both the breathtaking Appalachian mountains (Canadians – APP-AH-LATCH-EN, not that stupid/wrong way you pronounce it!), and the awe-inspiring Outer Banks.

 

Moreover, my mother’s family, the Scott Family, was one of the first to settle in NC, and established themselves as one of the most prominent families in NC. In edition to owning huge farms in Alamance County, the Scotts established schools across NC (my name sake, Elizabeth Scott Carrington, helped raise the funds for UNC’s Nursing School, which is why there is Carrington Hall at UNC-Chapel Hill). The Scotts were also pillars in the Medical Community (my grandfather was in the first graduating class at UNC’s Dental school, and my great-grandfather delivered over 6,000 babies in his lifetime – including my childhood best friend’s mother) and devoted themselves to public service (my great-uncle Kerr Scott and his son Robert Scott both served as governors of NC). Robert (Bob) Scott was the governor who “oversaw the creation of the 16-campus University of North Carolina system” and worked heavily to make post-secondary education accessible for all in NC. The Scott family were also huge into religion – Samuel Scott and his wife Nancy Bryan Scott helped start the Hawfields Presbyterian Church in 1755, a church which is still in existence today (it is where all the Scott Family is buried). So, as you can see, my family has a ton of history in North Carolina. No wonder I recognize myself as a North Carolinian first, right?

 

Fast forward to nowadays. Seeing NC struggling as it is – our representatives have specifically refused to attend town hall meetings and have claimed the constituents who are constantly calling, trying to get the representatives to listen to the people who they are suppose to represent, are paid and are bots trying to create ‘denial of services’ for ‘real’ constituents.  Our education system is devolving, with NC’s public education failing (in 2016, in a ranking of the best High Schools in the country, NC was ranked 38th out of 51 states [because DC counts a state in this ranking, even though it is really a district]; we also have one of the lowests pay rates in the US for our teachers). Higher education is no longer easily accessible in NC – I attended university at UBC over an in-state school because I could receive a better education for less money by attending school internationally instead (which I am sure caused my great uncle, Bob Scott, to roll over in his grave). The icing on the cake: after this recent election (and years of shady politics), NC is no longer considered a democracywith our “overall electoral integrity score of 58/100 for the 2016 election, which places us alongside authoritarian states and pseudo-democracies like Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone.”

All of these horrible things happening to the state my family helped create truly breaks my heart… So, over the summer, I made a choice. It became a reality to me that I would not be returning home, because – to be honest – this current North Carolina does not feel like home. But the current North Carolina is not the real North Carolina, in my opinion. The real North Carolina is the 250 years of progressive history that the Scott family helped contributed to. The real North Carolina is the one whose government representatives value its people over the representative’s party politics. The real North Carolina fights for democracy, and sets examples for the rest of the nation on how to prevent discrimination – not how to implement it (I don’t like cursing in blogs but I’mma say it – fuck HB2 and NC’s extremely unconstitutional voter ID laws.)  The real North Carolina believes in accessible, quality education for all. Because education is not a privilege of the elite, it is a necessity for a country to succeed. The real North Carolina understands this – the current North Carolina does not. 

So in September of this year, I decided to get a tattoo: my North Carolina, the real North Carolina, on my side by my heart, as a symbol of my love for the state and my hope that one day the real North Carolina will return.

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My tattoo: an outline of NC, with a heart around my city (Raleigh, also the capital), blue waves by the coast and mountains where the Appalachians are.
Now, to be honest, after the past few months, I really question whether the real NC can return. But I am sure of two things – James Taylor’s song ‘Carolina In My Mind’ will always remind me of home, and my tattoo will always remind me that NC once was a progressive state, and maybe, one day, we can be one again (electing Roy Cooper was a great start! Attempting to remove his ability to govern, on the other hand, not so much…)

So Bedbugs Are a Real Thing

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a very interesting experience after my most recent whirlwind of trips.

As a kid, my mother would always tuck me into bed and we would take turns saying each line in a old (I’m assuming southern?) nursery rhyme: “Night night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite.” For most of my life, I had no idea what a bedbug was – I just thought it was made up, maybe it used to exist but didn’t anymore. As I got older, I found out they really were a thing, but I would probably never have to deal with them, right? Because I always go to nice hotels, and bedbugs won’t be in nice hotels, right? Wrong.

Bedbugs are actually super common. And once you have them, it’s damned near impossible to get rid of them. One of my best friends growing up got bedbugs once; they had to fumigate their whole house. A few years later, my parent’s friends got them too and had to fumigate their whole house twice. So basically bedbugs are the devil. Horrible, terrible little fuckers that just. wont. die.

Fastforward to last week. I actually can’t exactly remember which day I first saw the spots on my hands and arms, but it was right when I got back from Las Vegas. And at first I was thinking – um, why do I look like I was a meal for some vicious little creature? Then I realized – ffuuuccckkkk, ARE THESE BEDBUG BITES?!?!?!?! NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.

As a true denier, I circled each spot in the hopes that they would disappear if I was watching them….. Yes, I realize this was irrational. But I was itching myself to death.
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Not as bad. But still like….WWWHHATTT????
THEY GOT MY FUCKING FACE!!! 😭😭😭😭😭

At first I’m like – “Okay, what can these be? Let’s think of literally everything that they could possibly be and hope it isn’t bedbugs.” That night I go out to dinner with a group of close friends, and since I’m itching like mad I decide to ask them: “What do these bites look like?” Of course, one of my friends there has had bedbugs. And immediately responds “bedbugs.” And I’m like “………fml” Only then, another friend responds “No no, that’s a rash, you are fine; come over to my house for the night, I’ll give you antihistamines, we’ll have a girls night, it’ll be fun.” Well, who do I listen to? Obviously the one that says not bedbugs, because I refuse to accept the reality that I did, indeed, open my home up for housing then set out a meal of my – apparently delicious – body for the little fuckers. So I take my second friend up on her offer, and the next morning I wake up in so much itchy pain that I feel like I am dying and finally give in to the reality that I really need to go to the doctor about this shit.

For those that don’t know – if you don’t have what is called “MSP” in British Columbia, you are not covered by the ‘free’ Canadian healthcare. It costs about $80/month (it used to be $60, but every year BC keeps raising the fees grumble grumble grumble) but once you pay that, you don’t have to pay for any doctor’s visits, etc. and your prescriptions are extremely cheap because they are subsidized. Which is awesome. Only I don’t have MSP anymore. Because when my visa changed from a student visa to a work permit, I didn’t know I had to re-enroll and I’m too damn lazy/don’t live in Vancouver enough to take the time to actually get healthcare here again. So what would be a free doctor’s visit turns into a $120 visit with a $20 prescription for a steroid cream so I don’t scratch holes into my arms (I nearly had, apparently I scratched in my sleep….) Moral of this story – it is more advantageous to just take the time to actually re-enroll. Have I? Nope. Why? Because I leave Vancouver again in a month. Annnnddddd: I’m still too damn lazy. Even though I have endless amounts of free time. Because that involves being productive, and my brain is like “No school! No work! Let’s sleep all day! Vacaattiionnnnnnn!!!!”

Anyway, after this SUPER FUN doctor’s visit, I go buy a steamer (my friend who had bedbugs before said it is the cheapest way to get rid of them, but you have to keep treating everything over and over and over for months – also $140, so my wallet was crying even though I knew my parents would help me pay for it.) AND I STEAM THE SHIT OUT OF EVERYTHING IN MY APARTMENT. My roommate thought I was insane when she came home and I was hunched over the floor steaming every inch I could reach. How many times did I steam my suitcase? Like 3. The couch? Like 5. My room? About 8 times. My bed? Fifteen freaking times. And I washed every piece of clothing, bedding, detachable object in the place at least two times. And put my bedding in the dryer for (and I’m actually not kidding) five hours. On extreme heat. Because I was not about to have bedbugs come back with me on my next adventures. Or get near my face again. That shit was not about to happen.

Well. Good news. The bugs never really came back. I say really because I woke one day with two little bites on my leg where my PJs cut off, and I flipped a shit and put my bedding back in the dryer for 3 hours on extreme heat then steamed every inch of my room AGAIN. BUT – lesson learned – bedbugs are real. They can live in really nice hotels. And somehow after 2 months in hostels around Europe I never got them, but apparently 3 days in America means bedbugs galore! (Can we start a #damnitdonald for shit like this, like they did with #thanksObama?) But then again, it may not have been bedbugs since I never actually saw any bugs, but like….it was bedbugs. Let’s be honest.

Also – if this ever happens to you, don’t bother getting an exterminator, $140 steamer + heating up every detachable thing in your house that fits in the dryer may just do the trick.

And just to reiterate. Because I can’t say it enough. Bedbugs are real. And they suck. And are essentially the devil. Like for real. My arms still haven’t healed. But at least my face has. Bright side?

What Has Lena Been Up To?

It has been a month since my last post. Why? Especially when my goal has been to write once a week? Well…. Many reasons have contributed to this, but the main is my insane travel schedule mixed with health issues to end with my avoidance of writing anything.

From the 28th of January until the 12th of February, I was in New York City – which, as you could tell from my posts, was amazing! Super wonderful for my future career, and I had a ton of fun with my wonderful friend Karol.

From the 12th of February to the 15th of February, I was in North Carolina. I successfully surprised my father for his birthday, which was actually super surprising since my mother is terrible at lying. More than once she nearly spoiled the surprise (example: she wrote a doctor’s appointment for me on the calendar, then realized her mistake and quickly scratched it out hoping my father hadn’t noticed).

From the 15th to the 18th of February, I was in Vancouver. I met with a potential employer, and ended up getting the job – only to have it fall through due to sketchy business practices by the company (long story, ask me in person). I also met with a group of friends in regards to another UN-related business venture but I’ll say more about that once it has become more official!

From the 18th to the 21st of February, I was visiting my best friend in Los Angeles. It was so great! We went to Disney, we used the hot tub in her backyard, we went shopping. We basically did everything best friends need to do, especially after not seeing each other for a year. And now I miss her again….

From the 22nd until the 25th of February, I was in Las Vegas. It was…an experience, that’s for sure. Day One – the classic ‘I have to take this call, OMG its an emergency, I’ve got to go’ date-ending excuse actually happened to me! But it was super funny, because it was at like 2am when I was totally okay with just going to bed and the guy had just realized he wasn’t going to get me up to his room. And now I have that story to tell! (If that was Day One, imagine what days 2 and 3 were like. It got worse each night!) Also, cool thing, we got to see Fat Joe in concert!!! For free! Hell yes for women getting into clubs free before 1am in Vegas!

After the 25th of February, I’ve been back in Vancouver. I ended up getting bed bug bites – because apparently they aren’t just a myth from my bedtime rhyme when I was a kid (“Night night; sleep tight; don’t let the bed bugs bite!”) Once that finally stopped making me wanna die from itching so bad, I actually accidentally gave myself a black eye in my martial arts class…. I’m a bit of a clutz…

So yeah! Thats been my past month. I’ll have more free time again, which hopefully means more posts? But we’ll see!