Thursday, January 16, 2014

Poetry Corner: An Ode to the 8th Grade

I have been doing some more winter cleaning today, namely going through old school files that I've been keeping in a rubbermaid container.  I found some poetry I wrote in 8th grade and I couldn't resist sharing it.  Funny how different we were in our past, but also how not too much has changed. . .we've really only matured in our personalities.

This is a picture of young 12-year-old Hillary, who loved dolphins and photoshoots, obvi.

Fall (a poem)

Leaves are falling
Halloweens coming

Weather getting cold
leave colors bold

lots to do
on a fall afternoon

never to get bored
for fall is in store.

A Hero

Heroes are gallant
They ride on great steeds
but they don't have to be a king or queen

They can be you parents
or even your friends too
it can be your pet, its true!

Ode to the Steelers

Oh Steelers, Oh Steelers,
please win the Superbowl.
With Polamalu on defense
I know we can start a brawl
I know we can win
the 40th Superbowl.
I have no doubt, for we have Roethlisburger as well.
The Bus will stop the Seahawks,
dead in their tracks
I know we can do it
for we are the Steelers,
Mighty, brave, and strong.

Friendships are like a Book

Sometimes they last for ages,
at times they can be quite short

Sometimes your made to have them
because your parents make sure you do

Sometimes they can bore you like crazy
or fascinate you so much

They can be lifely and colorful
but dull and colorless just as much

You can get sick of them
when you're halfway through

Or want it to last forever
and never make you sad and blue

Sometimes they're short and sweet
or long and annoying its true

They can be adventurous and fun
or fake and unrealistic, too

None are ever the same
and may have a twist at the end,

but eventually you'll find,
one that is a true book or friend.

Summer Daydreams

Sitting in class I get so bored
I'm getting sick of these winter storms.
I often dream of a summer night
when I stare up at the sky with the stars shining bright.
I picture a pool with all my friend there
we're splashing & swimming without a care.
Now we're back at my house camping out
and all of a sudden we hear a shout
I run out of my tent to see who is there,
and its just one of my friends trying to give me a scare.
My mind flashes to vacation at the beach
I step on the hot sand and start to screech
so I run to the water and splash around
Oh how I wish I was at the beach now.
All of a sudden I see balloons and clowns
I'm at the fair with everyone in town.
My friends & I run to the nearest stand
and wait for the old man to stamp our hands.
Ice cream, lemonade and cotton candy thats blue
we even ride the ferris wheel too
and then I remember that I'm in school
and the teacher stares at me like I'm a fool
"sorry," I say as I look out at the snow.
Summer daydreams have started - its time for winter to go.

And for fun, another little ditty I found: 30 Thing I Learned in 2005

1. Make sure the hot tub is heated before you get in it in 40 degree weather.
2. Look both ways before you cross the road.
3. Don't get caught trying to finish your homework during that class.
4. Never go to Wal-Mart on the 4th of July.
5. I don't like AOL.
6. Never pull a prank on your older brother.
7. Don't eat raw mushrooms - ever.
8. Make sure you're good at sight reading when your band teacher is in a bad mood.
9. Never fall asleep at a sleepover; you never know what you could wake up with.
10. Don't ask you mom to go to Wendy's if she had a bad day.
11. Asking your brother a question while he's playing X-Box is not a very good idea.
12. Don't eat yellow snow.
13. Don't cut your hands 3 times in one week - the bandaids may run out fast.
14. Wearing sandals when it's high tide, night time, and you're looking for ghost crabs in NOT a smart idea.
15. Try not to get separated in haunted houses.
16. Check if there's anything in the oven BEFORE you turn it on.
17. Don't leave your cat locked in the porch - there will be a big, smelly mess.
18. Soy banana milkshakes are gross - don't buy one by accident.
19. S'mores are very delightful in the microwave.
20. Throwing socks at a ceiling fan is entertaining on a hot summer day.
21. Don't lay in the middle of the street in New Wilmington.
22. Make sure your swimming suit is completely on before diving in.
23. Don't underestimate the saying of your parents having eyes in the back of their heads.
24. Sometimes, 10 blankets isn't enough when you sleep on the porch.
25. Don't forget to unplug your straightener before you go to school.
26. Too much sparkly cider on New Year's Eve can make you hyper.
27. Don't drink Dunkin' Donuts biggest Iced Latte in one night - you'll be up till 3 in the morning sick to your stomach.
28. Bring gloves to football games.
29. Don't be the first one on a water slide train of people - it hurts.
30. My advice: sing in the rain and dance in your underwear; you only have one life to live :)

Happy Throwback Thursday, y'all

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Baking 2014: Protein-packed granola bars

At the start of the new year, ideas of healthy eating and daily exercise work their way into our daily thoughts.  We think about all of the egg nog we drank, the pie we consumed and the amount of time spent on the couch relaxing with Netflix or a good read.  And we collectively decide "2014 is it; the year I get healthy and treat my body with respect!"

Health wise it's been one of my best years.  During my tween-teen years I got away with eating complete junk (and a lot of it) on a regular basis and managed to not gain a pound. But now that I've reached my 20s and my metabolism slowed significantly, I had to start paying more attention to how I was treating my body.  After 2 years of a physical activity hiatus I decided it was time to learn how to use a treadmill and the weight equipment in the gym.  Thankfully I started to love it after I got over the initial agonizing pain in my muscles, but, like usual, I began Christmas break 2012 and hit another fitness slump.  When I don't treat my body with care, I feel down in the dumps; I lack motivation, positivity, energy and my usual cheerful attitude.  I take advantage of the surplus amount of free time pn break and allow my body's normal functions to become zombic robot-like (I think I just made up that word).

This past year and a half I learned how physical activity and healthy eating really DO make you feel better.  As much as it pains you to crawl out of bed at 7 in the morning to do a work out before the gym, at the end of the day you notice how pushing yourself to get in some cardio naturally fuels your body for the rest of the day and actually makes you crave apples and oranges (I swear by this...)

Now to the point of this post: Because morning workouts are best before taking a shower and heading to work/school, sometimes it's easy to forget to eat breakfast on your way to the gym.  If you're like me and intentionally sleep in your work-out gear so you can roll out of the bed and be on your way, having something to eat on the walk or drive is essential.  I found 2 protein-packed granola bar recipes to give you the energy to kick start the day; it's delicious, easy to make, full of nutrients and lacks all of the nasty store-bought preservatives.

Granola bars are one of those recipes you can self-create along the way and exchange this ingredient for that ingredient (which is perfect for those who are selective about their fruit/nuts).  In the first recipe, I added peanuts and dried apricots and in the second, I added peanuts and peanut butter. Both turned out great and I can't wait to eat them in the next couple of weeks!

Honey Fruit & Nut Granola bars

1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups steel-cut whole grain oats
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1/4 cup coarsely chopped unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup coarsely chopped dried cranberries
1/4 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

Heat the oven to 350 F, line a 9x9 inch pan with aluminum foil.

Toast the nuts and oats on a baking sheet for 5-10 minutes then transfer to a large bowl.

Combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla extract and the salt in a small saucepan and heat over medium until the sugar has dissolved completely.

Pour butter mixture into the bowl with the oats and nuts, stirring until everything is coated.  Add the chopped dried fruit and half of the chocolate chips.

Spread the mixture into the pan and press down with your hands (the harder you press, the more likely your bars will keep their shape and not become crumbly granola).  Sprinkle the top of the bars with the remaining chocolate chips and lightly press down.  Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours until firm enough to cut.  Bars will keep up to 1 week in an air-tight container.

Nature Valley Peanut Butter Copy-Cat Granola Bars

1 cup steel-cut whole grain oats
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats 
1/4 cup Rice Crispies cereal
1/4 cup chopped unsalted peanuts
3 tbsp cornmeal
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/6 cup honey
1/6 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons canola oil or coconut oil
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line a 9x9 inch pan with parchment paper.

Combine oats, nuts, cereal, cornmeal, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl.

Heat the honey, peanut butter, canola oil, vanilla extract and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.  

Transfer the butter mixture to the mixing bowl and combine until completely coated.

Bake 20-25 minutes.  Let cool 10-15 minutes before cutting into rectangles.


Friday, January 3, 2014

New Year, New Goals: Reflecting on the Past Year

Last year I made a pretty hefty new years' resolution list.  It was the first time I ever actually sat down, came up with a 10 item list and kept it in storage in my brain over the past 365 days. Here was 2013's list:

1. Journal daily
2. Find a positive outlook even when I'm surround by negativity
3. Eat more fruit and vegetables 
4. Work out to get the stress out 
5. Let go of my feelings toward fear and failure
6. Work harder on relationships with friends and family
7. Take a yoga class (or teach one)
8. Set aside an hour each day to breathe, relax and reflect
9. Learn to play at least 10 songs on the guitar
10. Read The Bible in its entirety

I am proud to say I accomplished a few of these things in addition to putting a lot of effort and work toward accomplishing a few of the other tasks.  The thing I like about new years' resolutions is you don't necessarily need to complete it during the year you compile the list, but instead work toward those goals for the rest of your life.  When we create a new set of goals, it is a reflection of our growth during the past year and the knowledge we've acquired toward learning how to make ourselves better people.  While it is ideal to complete the tasks in the 365-day range, it is lovely that we have just taken the time to get ourselves motivated.

Looking back on these goals of 2013, the ones underlined are the tasks I managed to accomplish, and the ones left in italics are the ones that didn't quite make the cut but I put a lot of work toward each one.  While at summer camp I did journal every day, and I started off pretty well right after the first of the new year and during the following semester.  But this past semester, capstone took over a lot of my free journaling time and I found myself doing it about once a week (which is still an improvement!). When I arrive back in Scotland I anticipate journaling my daily adventures. I'm thinking about writing a travel memoir.

For #2 I definitely found myself carrying a more positive attitude but I also had some really low points throughout the year.  I recognized this error in my personality though and was able to bring myself out of various funks. Progress.

#8 is a tricky one.  Once again, I think camp allowed this as a daily task.  When I got up in the morning I could sit in silence in the cafeteria with a cup of coffee, my Bible and a journal, reflecting on the previous day and being still with God.  I find when I'm away from an environment like summer camp, though, it gets exceedingly more difficult to do this every day.  I need to remind myself those times of stillness are when we are the closest to God and the closest to understanding our hearts and minds.

#10 I didn't complete this, I'll blame it on Capstone again, but I did make a lot of progress throughout it.  I made it completely and chronologically through 10 chapters in the new testament and 10 in the old testament.  Might not sound like a lot but I know I have been guilty of cherry-picking in the past which doesn't help in understanding The Bible as one complete document where every story is intertwined.

That being said, here is my list for 2014 (14 items for each year of the millenium.)

1. Journal daily
2. Read The Bible in its entirety (chronologically and cover-to-cover)
3. Start song-writing
4. Perform daily meditation
5. Run a half-marathon or 5K
6. Don't let my happiness depend on the approval of others
7. Constantly work toward having a selfless attitude instead of a selfish one
8. Search for a career outside of the US
9. Stop dwelling on the good/bad times of my past and remember that each day is a fresh start
10. Save money for a cross-country road trip
11. Dive back into mission (whether it's by supporting others in their efforts or going on my own trip)
12. Instead of always trying to document moments on social media, give myself completely to the person and situation (more face-to-face communicating)
13. Travel to 3 new countries
14. Learn something new every day outside of the classroom

Be thankful for having another year to reach those life-long goals.  And thankful for everyone who has helped you reach them.  Happy new year!