Pinterest A Grateful Life Lived: April 2014

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Finals: A Presence Filled 2014

     Depending on how you look at it-- and how much of a procrastinator you are-- finals can be a challenging time to stay focused on God and experience His presence.  It's so easy to get wrapped up in studying and writing papers.  But we don't have to be stressed, we can choose peace over those things.  That's something I'm very much learning at this point.  Most of my finals this semester are papers and presentations, but I do have 2 finals.  I just got one out of the way! Yay!!!  And I'm so grateful for God's peace that goes before me, and that gives me rest.  Gosh: I can't wait to have a nice break this summer!  Finals getting you down?  Enjoy some funny pictures about exam-moping: final examsFinal Exams Are Right Around The Corner  // funny pictures - funny photos - funny images - funny pics - funny quotes - #lol #humor #funnypictures
this is the way I walk out of my final exam

Monday, April 28, 2014

Kitchen Concoctions: Preparing Spaghetti Squash College-Dorm Style

     As I mentioned in my Easter post, I got some pretty awesome exotic health foods in my basket this year-- I love healthy foods!  (RELATED: My Top Nutritious Snacks).  Among the bunch was a lovely little Spaghetti Squash.  I'd previously mentioned wanting to try making one, but it just hadn't happened.  Still, I've been anxious to eat this "spaghetti impostor," especially since it's gluten free and I'm still on-- though weaning off of (that's for another post-- a gluten free diet.
     Last night seemed like the perfect chance to make my Spaghetti Squash.  At first, I was a little intimidated by the challenge of doing so in a college dorm.  I didn't have the necessary utensils and ingredients to do it in the basement oven, so I did my research and headed to the kitchenette down the hall.  Turns out: It's pretty darn easy!  Here's the lowdown:

What You'll Need:
- 1 Spaghetti Squash
- a large plate or serving dish
- a (decently) sharp knife
- a fork (FYI: plastic doesn't work so well)
- seasonings (I used garlic salt)
- optional: cheese!
- optional: a measuring cup
-optional: an oven mitt

 First, cut the ends off your squash and then slice it in half lengthwise to form two little boats.  The inside will have lots of gunky stuff, so scrape out the seeds and the "innards," but leave the strands that will later become your spaghetti!  I did this step with my hands, but if you've got other means: Go for it!
 Next, fill half the squash with 1/2 a cup of water (or guesstimate if you don't have a measuring cup). After that, make sure the squash is level on the plate and place the other half on top of squash half filled with water.
Pop the whole thing in the microwave and nuke it for 10 minutes or so.  Most of my preparation and cooking was based off this blog post by MeganRuth, which pointed out that the spaghetti strands should be more of a clearer yellow when done cooking.  For my squash, it was about 10.5 minutes, but it also depends on your microwave.  The one in our dorm kitchenette is quite ancient.
After your squash is done, it should resemble mine: Deliciously laden with spaghetti strands!  Take your fork and begin raking the strands out, which will happen easily.  This is the step where I would recommend using an oven mitt if you have one.  I survived by using sheets of paper towels, but I wouldn't recommend it.
 My medium squash yielded about 4 cups of spaghetti, which is a very ample amount and is super filling.  Though optional, I seasoned my squash.  I had a little garlic salt on hand, so I sprinkled that on and mixed it in.  I also took 1/2 a low-fat cheese stick and broke it up and mixed it in before heating the mug for another minute.  Once I was back in my room, I dug in! I won't mince words: It was SO good!!!!  The texture is very similar to real spaghetti, and I loved the taste!  It wasn't too bland by itself but it also didn't taste like I was eating "vegetables."  With my light seasoning and melted cheese: It made for the perfect nighttime snack!  It's also refrigeratable for a couple of days if you want to save it for a quick snack later.  Plus, it was so easy to improvise.  If I was able to do it (RELATED: Pancakes for the Kitchen Amateur), I guarantee: you won't screw it up.

It was a perfect snack for the evening!  With the great flavor, you would hardly know that each cup is chock full of vitamin A, vitamin c, potassium, iron, fiber and many other essential vitamins and minerals (See the full lowdown  HERE).  Plus, each cup is only 42 calories so you can load up on healthy toppings like low-fat cheese, veggies and sauce.  Add some healthy sides and you've got a well balanced meal.  Or you can do what I did and have the pasta as a fun, evening snack.  Either way, even diehard pasta fans need to give this one a try!  If you're wary, you can also try mixing it half and half with real pasta to get the best of both worlds.  Among the recipes I still want to try with Spaghetti Squash: pizza boats, pizza crust and spaghetti squash seasoned with pesto (or nut butter?!)  I've committed to making some for the family when I'm home this summer, and I think I'll have plenty of chances to experiment once they fall in love with this delicious treat like I have.  It believe the Spaghetti Squash just earned a spot on my lists of Top 10 Favorite Foods and Best College Snacks!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A-Z of Me: Letter "F"

What are my favorite foods?

I tend to lean toward the healthy stuff, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy delicious food as well! Healthy can be delicious, and it should be.  I recently posted on my favorite healthy snacks for on-the-go college students (Click HERE), but I've got plenty of other favorites as well.  So, with much deliberation, I present: My 10 favorite order!
1. Cantaloupe

2. Shrimp

3. Zucchini Squash/Mushrooms- I couldn't decide :)

4. Jello

5. All kinds of cereal!!!

6. Protein bars (NuGo or Luna Protein)
I got these free samples in the mail
from Luna! 

7. Air-popped Popcorn

8. Jazz or Fuji Apples

                     9. Blueberries

                             10. Sweet potatoes

Sorry I've been extremely irregular with keeping up my "A-Z of Me" series.  I promise: With summer just around the corner, I'll actually be doing this every Saturday as I'd initially planned.  Have you read my first few letters?  Check out A,B,C,D and E:

5 Awesome Applications for Your Phone

I am not a very technologically savvy individual, especially when pitted against the majority of my generation.  Yet, I do enjoy the convenience of my Android smartphone and I love finding new apps that allow me to further explore the things I love.  I've blogged previously about my favorite apps, but in our rapidly advancing society: There's always something new.  Granted, some of these apps are not new at all, but they're new to me.  Best news: They're all FREE.  Check out some of my top new apps:

1. Noom Walk
I love exploring, hiking, walking, running-- you name it.  Naturally, I was intrigued when I found Noom Walk.  I started using the application and put the nifty little pedometer widget on my phone background.  I enjoy seeing how much I walk on certain days. The app records the steps I've taken and allows me to see this history over time.  Maybe I'm nerdy, but I think it's cool to see how many steps it takes me to walk to class or down to the athletic training room.  Sorry iPhone friends, this one's only available for Android.  However, Noom does have another application called Noom Weight that has a more comprehensive diet and exercise focus, but also includes a pedometer function.

Playstore: Noom Walk

2. FieldTrip
This app is pretty cool because it's the perfect companion for an adventurous explorer like myself.  Once you allow the app to access your location, it shows you cool things nearby and groups them into categories.  Users can read about the history or significance of a specific item of interest.  The app also has a map view that gives users an idea of where everything is in relation to them.  I downloaded FieldTrip with the idea that I will explore Eugene, Oregon this May with expertise and ease.  The true test will come in a few months, but I'm excited to have FieldTrip in my repertoire for my next out-of-town adventure.
PlayStore: FieldTrip
Itunes: FieldTrip

3. Pocket
I love reading the news.  I enjoy reading about the latest trends in health, fitness, lifestyle and travel. However, I also have a notoriously short attention span and constantly find myself wanting to save an article so I can read it later.  Pocket is a great tool that allows me to do just that, across numerous mediums.  I have it on my Mac and my phone.  I can be reading an article online or in another news app, like Pulse, and then "pocket" it for later reading.  My favorite part is that the articles are saved and accessible without internet access, so I can easily catch up on things I've pocketed no matter where I am.  It also gives me peace of mind that I've stored the article somewhere and won't simply forget I wanted to read it later!
PlayStore: Pocket
Itunes: Pocket

4. Cartwheel
Cartwheel is another great time saving application.  Since coming to college, Target has been my go-to grocery store and Cartwheel is the Target mobile application for coupons.  Basically, you can have up to 12 coupons in your cart out of the variety that Target has.  I've been impressed with the numerous coupons available for products I typically buy-- cottage cheese, cereal, greek yogurt, ect.-- and have saved a lot of money with very little effort.  Cartwheel is also accessible online from Target's website, which makes for it even more convenient.  After I have saved the coupons I want in my virtual cart, I just let the store cashier scan the barcode from my Cartwheel app.  For very little effort, I've saved a good deal of money and that makes for a happy college student (RELATED: Buying Textbooks for Cheap)!
PlayStore: Cartwheel
Itunes: Carthwheel

6. Menthal
Health is very important to me and I enjoy eating healthy foods (click HERE for some of my favorites), but it is so easy to neglect emotional health in the process of eating well and exercising.  That is one reason I love Menthal.  When I was really homesick and struggling during the first semester, I found this application and have been using it ever sense.  Initially, I set up a time that the app. will alert me twice a day (8:30 for me).  So at 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m., a little icon shows up from Menthal asking me to gauge my emotions by sliding a little mouth up or down, to form a smiley face or frowny face.  It then tracks all my emotions and I can look back and see how I was feeling overall for a day or week.  It is also helpful because I can see how my emotional health was for the entire month.  The biggest benefit for me is that Menthal forces me to stop and take a check of how I'm feeling, which is so easy to ignore.  But when I notice, "Oh ya, I'm not feeling very joyful today," it is so much easier to turn that around and decide I'm not going to have a "frowny face day" just because that's how I felt at 8:30 a.m.  Perhaps it sounds a little cheezy, but it's easy enough that it's worth a try.  Maybe you'll find it extremely helpful, like me.  Sorry iPhone friends, this one is exclusively available on Android :)
PlayStore: Menthal

20 Ways You Know the College School Year's Almost Over

     It's no coincidence that I've been blogging more lately.  As finals have drawn nearer, I've needed more breaks and more reasons to procrastinate.  Before you all freak out: I am perfectly prepared for finals and am not going to bomb the end of my freshman year (I'm hoping to finish off with a 4.0, mind you!)  This is the typical pattern though.  My brain is fried and my motivation is beginning to resemble the amount of clothing on girls lounging out on the mall: scarce.
     This is far from the only sign that freshman year is almost over though.  Rather, there are plenty of indicators that I have only 1 day of classes (Monday) left before exams and the final ride home...for this year at least.  As you take a look at this list, I hope you realize you are among friends.  If not, I guess I'm the freak.  And in that case, this post will come across as really awkward and stupid.  Enjoy!

1. You're reusing clothing (more than usual) so you don't have to do laundry another time
2. Your desk has turned into a "schlepping corner"

3. You're desperately Googling "how to remove water stain from desk" in your free time

4. You're wondering if bringing all those clothes back after Easter was really a smart idea...

5. You're also wondering why you never wore that cute dress that is lodged in the back of your closet

6. Now you're judging yourself as you realize how little of your "normal-looking" clothes you actually wore, in comparison to sweatpants and athletic gear.

7. You're fantasizing about taking a shower without sandals and singing at the top of your lungs

8. You're also fantasizing about sleep-filled nights without 2 a.m. fire drills or 5 a.m. construction right outside your window.

9. You wonder why in the world you bought 500 paper clips and why you thought you'd have time to read the 10 new books you brought back after Spring Break

10. You just decided to pick one of said books, in order to avoid cracking open that Chemistry notebook

11. You finally retired your snow boots to the back of the closet...last Tuesday

12. There are strange odors in the room, but at this point: You have no idea what it could be

13. These strange odors may or may not be coming from your roommate who's writing a 20 page research paper and hasn't showered in weeks

14. The campus mall is suddenly filled with hoards of students sunbathing and pretending like finals are millions of miles away and they are at the beach.  Thus, it's not 50 degrees out in Indiana, so wearing a bikini top and reeking of tanning lotion is accepted and encouraged.

15. The line for the campus Starbucks is out the door and the gym is strangely empty.

16. You see more delivery guys from Insomnia Cookies (or Jimmy Johns) than Pharmacy majors- unless you are one of them, and you're hiding away in the library with your textbooks and the first draft of your will (RELATED: Quick Snack for the College Health Nut).

17. You've completed more evaluations and surveys this week than you have homework assignments

18. You got to play with puppies this morning and color pictures at dinner last week as part of de-stressing events

19. You decide to write a blog post rather than edit a paper for your Strategic Communication class

20. You decided to read a pointless blog post rather than study for a final that is tomorrow, because it made you think of summer.

To all my fellow students: Enjoy the last few days of the school year and enjoy a well-deserved summer break!