Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving, Better Late than Never!

Maybe you're sick of logging onto Facebook and being bombarded with people's statuses about what they are thankful for - but I'm not, so get ready.  I read something online the other day that really made me stop and think for a moment: What if tomorrow you woke up and only had the things you thanked God for yesterday?

Most days I would wake up with nothing.  Why is it that we only give ourselves one day each year to really be aware of just how lucky and blessed we are?  Being home, surrounded by family and friends, has been such a wonderful reminder of just how much I should be thankful for - every single day.

I started making a list of things I was thankful for the night I got home and it has only gotten longer each day.  Of course I was thankful for my mom since she came into Logan at midnight to pick me up from the airport even though she asked me while I sat in four hours of traffic trying to get to the airport if I could please try and get on an earlier flight...  I was thankful that my temper did not get the best of me at the airport McDonald's where they were out of nuggets and Diet Coke.  Really?  Just close up for the night if you don't have the essentials.  I guess I'm thankful they still had sweet and sour sauce - it's the little things in life.

My dog - I hadn't realized just how much I missed her (I mean she is the best dog in the world).  My clothes - I opened my closet to visit some old friends and red wool coat, I've missed you and I'm thankful for you.  My mattress - I am so thankful for the pillow-top cloud I get to sleep on for a few nights before heading back to Fredericksburg.  Mattress at school, you fail.  I am always thankful for a good night's sleep.


The next morning my dad didn't wait long before joking with me at breakfast and messing up my hair.  Dad, I'm thankful that I got your sense of humor, Chump - I mean Champ!  Never gets old, right Dad?  Oh by the way Timmay, all my friends are asking about you.  They want to know how the Big Guy's doing!


Speaking of friends, I'm thankful for my friends back here in MA.  Sometimes it seems like you guys know me better than I know myself.  It always amazes me and makes me insanely happy that despite going months between seeing each other, we can just pick up right where we left off.  What would I do without all of you?


Family.  I have a lot of you and I think we're all a little bit kooky - in a good way.  I'm thankful for every story we shared and the laughter that didn't seem to stop the entire time you were all here for Thanksgiving dinner.  Next year we need more pies though.  Yes, definitely more pie.  Growing up with an extended family like ours is a bit of an anomaly these days and it's one of the things I am most thankful for.  May the "Idiot Wave" live on forever.

So there you have it.  Just a handful of things I am thankful for but enough to warrant a blog post.  Maybe I am sick of all those Facebook statuses after all...they aren't long enough!  What are you thankful for?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Do You Feel that Draft?

I've got eight, count 'em, EIGHT posts sitting as drafts in my good old blogger account.  Bad news: they might stay there for a while.  Good news: this new one is going all the way to "Publish"!  There are lots of things I'd love to blog about but it seems like there are many times when I start writing a post only to suddenly second guess myself and put it on the back burner.  And then this little habit develops, it's called ignoring your blog, which is lame.  I am guilty of this and hanging my head in shame as I type.  Really though, if I'm going to make the assumption that something I write deserves a spot somewhere on the web, shouldn't I actually post something then?

And this brings us to my goal of the week.  That's right, I have a goal of the week.  Don't judge me, maybe that should be your goal of the week.  My roommate (oh hey, Lindsay!) and I are really awesome sometimes like to have little chats before hitting the hay and a few nights ago we decided that we should each pick a small goal to strive for this week.  My goal, can you guess it?  Stop second guessing myself...so much, maybe?  I don't know, should this be my goal - just kidding!  But that's me showing you an example of how I second guess myself.  Really though, the amount of times I stop myself from saying or doing something because I'm afraid of other people's judgment is just silly.  Silly!  It's time to stop all the second guessing.  Now, how am I going to achieve this goal?  Well that little tidbit is still in the works.  Posting this baby is a good way to start though.  Now it's your turn.  What's your goal of the week?  Try out a new recipe?  Talk to the kid beside you in class?  Actually make your bed in the morning?  Actually come up with a goal of the week?  Whatever it is, let's all be goal-setter go-getters!

P.S. - Blogger had some technical issues when I was typing this and logged me out twice.  So this post ended up being saved as a draft...sometimes it's hard to break habits!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Triple Threat

I happen to believe that there is a direct correlation between quantity of butter shown and quality of a post written.  Butter is better - can I get an "Amen, Paula Deen!"?  There's a lot of butter in this post - it might just knock your socks off.  


Exhibit A: Yup, it's confirmed, get ready for an awesome post 
and an even better recipe.



Just in case three sticks of butter wasn't convincing enough, how about a GIANT bowl of milk chocolate chips, bittersweet chocolate chips, and peanut butter chips?  Three kinds of chips = a triple threat.  Get it?

 Oh you weren't sure just how big the bowl of chips was?  Let's compare it with the bowl of cookie dough.  Who doesn't love an equal ratio of dough to chips?!?


(Disclaimer: All that butter in the first picture was not just for one recipe.  I used it to make a huge batch of cookies as well as a small batch of muffins.) 
 Here are some of the finished cookies.  Did you know that muffins and cookies like to hang out on cooling racks together and discuss current events.  
On this particular day they debated about the use of applesauce as an oil substitute in brownie recipes.  They also spent a bit of time talking about the pros and cons of silicone cupcake liners - sure they can be used again and again but they can be a pain to clean!



As good as these cookies look, they tasted about a million times more delicious.  This is one of my new favorite cookie recipes and it came from someone who knows just a bit about baking -
Bakerella - the queen of cake pops!

You should really try her recipe.  I used peanut butter and bittersweet chips instead of white chocolate and butterscotch ones but try whatever combination you want - customize your cookies!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Let Me Break It Down for You

Don't you just love midterms?  They really bring out the best in everyone.  Midterms allow us to see how people deal with stress.  You've got those quiet, withdrawn individuals who spend more time in the library than anywhere else.  There are those people who seem to think they are the only ones in the world with exams to study for and assignments to complete - they also believe complaining is their job and they strive to make sure everyone knows just how much stress they are under.  Let's not forget about the angry people, muttering under their breath between classes and ferociously flipping blue-book pages during tests. 

It doesn't matter how you deal with stress because we're all ultimately working towards one thing.  The end goal of all this stress is Fall Break.  Glorious Fall Break.  That two day hiatus from class that might not seem like much to others but for students, it is the ticket to sanity.

For me, breaks are always perfectly timed with when I'm really starting to get sick of the whole school deal.  I'm tired of coming back and finding that the door to Eagle Landing is broken (again) and I have to walk around to the other side.  Yes, this is making a mountain out of a molehill, but when you're late for a meeting and you need to grab something from you're apartment, it's an annoyance.  I'm tired of eating a naked burrito (no tortilla, por favor) every Monday and Wednesday at Seacobeck.  Sure Friday breakfast sandwiches add a bit of variety to my lunchtime fare, but sometimes the biscuits are dry and as a biscuit-enthusiast this is incredibly upsetting  I'm tired of setting my alarm early so I can complete a reading assignment before class only to hit snooze six times and annoy the heck out of my roommate.  I'm even tired of logging onto Facebook to procrastinate doing homework - thank goodness I have blogs to follow and Pinterest to keep me distracted and unproductive!  Now I'm sure you are tired of hearing me complain.  This only strengthens my point - it's time for break, people so let's just power through the next two days!  Good luck on your exams, assignments, etc. and I hope your Facebook newsfeed is more entertaining and distracting than mine.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Minor Details

On Sunday I bid a sad farewell to my math minor.  After going back and forth for days about what to do about my courses this semester I finally came to a set decision.  My math course just had to go.  Dropping it meant I would not be able to fulfill the requirements for a math minor before graduation, but it also meant not taking six courses this semester/preserving at least some degree of sanity.

The thinking process I went through to get to my decision varied.  There were moments of panic and irrationality where I questioned just what kind of impact not having a math minor would have on my life.  Some thoughts I had were, "WHAT IF I CAN NEVER GET A JOB WITHOUT IT?!?", "WHAT IF I DECIDE I ACTUALLY DO WANT TO GO TO GRAD SCHOOL (I don't want to go, I mean, I really don't want to go) AND THEY WON'T ADMIT ME?!?", "WHAT IF THIS MEANS I'LL BECOME A LONELY OLD WOMAN WHOSE ONLY COMPANY IS CATS?!?" - I was not kidding when I said irrational...

And then there was a moment of clarity, dare I say an Oprah-worthy "aha!" moment - on second thought, I don't dare, it's great that Oprah gives away cars and stuff but sometimes she can be a bit much.  Anyways, the point is, I will survive without a math minor.  I will survive, find a job, go to grad school if I end up changing my mind, and hopefully I will not become a crazy old cat lady (I prefer dogs, so really there's a larger chance of me becoming a crazy old dog lady).  I will survive and gosh darnit, I just might thrive!

The stress that came with my decision reminded me of my senior year of high school.  Remember that time when every quiz/test/project/assignment appeared to be the most pivotal event of your life.  College applications and the acceptance/rejection letters that followed really brought out the crazy in people.  One of my teachers senior year gave us this advice, "Girls, just don't stress about it."  Well that's helpful...not.  Another teacher decided to postpone a lecture and share some words of wisdom.  She reassured us that while high school is an important time in one's life, it is certainly not the most important time in one's life.  She sympathized with the stress we were feeling but also reminded us that one assignment would not make or break our academic careers and although rejection letters can be real Debbie-Downers, one acceptance letter is really all you need.  Basically she reminded us that there was more to life than a high school GPA - sometimes at an all-girls Catholic high school, you need to be reminded of the obvious.  Guess whose advice made more of an impact?

So this weekend, when I was contemplating my future, I just tweaked my history teacher's advice and realized that my life will not be solely determined by the minor degree I earn, or fail to earn, during four years in college - as long as I complete my major, right Mom and Dad?  Sure, it would be great if we could all "not stress" but, that's not feasible.  Instead we can choose to step back and take a closer look at what truly matters - hint, it is not your high school GPA.

Monday, August 29, 2011

That's the Way the (Fortune) Cookie Crumbles

Tonight, my fortune cookie at dinner read, "It's time to break out of your routine and try something new."  Maybe my fortune cookie was trying to say, "Hey, why don't you snap out of this routine of having a blog but not posting to it, you ninny!" 

So here I am, posting after a long hiatus.  Blogging is a great thing to do if you're procrastinating school work, not if you're enjoying the dog days of summer.  There must be something about the dim light of a college dorm room that gets my creative juices flowing and my blog posts a-typin'.

Tomorrow is the first day of classes for my senior year of college - woot woot.  Is it weird that for the past three years, I've worn the same tank top on the first day of classes.  Freshman year I planned my outfit and the shirt was relatively new.  Sophomore year I think it was just a strange coincidence.  Then Junior year rolled around and it just seemed silly to wear something else.  So yes, I've worn the same shirt all three years and tomorrow should be no different, right?  But what about this fortune cookie message?  Those things are always right, just ignore the occasional grammar error.  Is it time to change my routine and switch up my "first day of class" outfit?

While this fortune cookie might appear to be fitting for the start of a new school year, I honestly think it would be more appropriate a few months from now - when exams are over and my diploma is in my hand.  Then it will really be time for a new routine.  I'll join a group of new graduates trying to figure out where their life is headed and if it's actually the direction they want to go in.  It will be scary and exciting, filled with challenges and rewarding experiences.  The routine of college will shift (hopefully) into the routine of full-time jobs and a whole new set of responsibilities.  Next year will be all about trying something new.

That being said, for now I choose to ignore my little fortune cookie scrap of wisdom.  I like routines and habits and schedules.  I like being organized and knowing what is coming next.  I especially like my favorite blue tank top and yes, it will make an appearance on my first day of classes.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Back on the Blog

Don't you hate those people who start blogs and then go on to just ignore them and neglect posting anything for weeks!  I guess I really got into the whole summer mode...

I've tried writing different posts but for some reason I just could not get into the swing of things and always ended up departing the blogosphere long before completing a post.  Hopefully this one will make it all the way to the "publish post" button! 

Since I've been home from school, I've caught up with many old friends and a topic of conversation that keeps coming up is this whole impending adulthood thing.  Apparently we are actually growing up, despite all of our efforts to forget that the real world is just around the corner.  I'm talking about the real world that consists of full-time jobs, committed relationships, worries about the future of our country, and decisions of what health insurance plan is best.  I'm not talking about The Real World: Las Vegas - I mean, there's a lot to talk about there, but just not for this post.

A friend of mine described "young adulthood" as the time when we've lost our place at the kids' table but haven't carved out a place at the adults' table yet...a bit of an in-between stage.  I'd say that's pretty accurate.  One of the first days I was back at home from school, I came into the house and asked my mom if I could go out that night with a friend.  Her response was pretty much, "Maura, you're 21.  You don't really need to ask permission for things like that anymore."  Oh.  I guess I didn't realize that.  Obviously I can't do whatever I want, but it makes sense that there are certain things I no longer need permission for.  It was one of the first times I realized my childhood had officially left the building.  I'm still not sure of how I feel about this.

Maybe I would feel more adult-like if I had a fancy-shmancy internship in Boston like some people I know.  Maybe I would feel more adult-like if when I bought beer the guy working behind the counter didn't say I looked like I was fifteen.   Maybe I would feel more adult-like if I found a summer job that was more suited to my major of economics than babysitting is.

But then again...

Maybe I'm ok with foregoing a commute into the city five days a week for an internship that might look great on a resume but bores the heck out of me.  Maybe I'm ok with looking like a high school freshman now, because perhaps my "youthful" look will resonate well into old age.  Maybe I'm ok with playing working with kids people who enjoy crayons, glitter glue, and pancakes just as much as I do.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I want to hold onto this in-between stage for a little bit longer.  There will be plenty of time for resume-building, forty hour work weeks, car payments, apartment rental fees, and every other little thing that comes with this whole impending adulthood thing.  For now, I am going to soak in my last (fingers-crossed since this job market sucks), real summer vacation. 
Babysitting two days a week can be rough and of course finding enough activities to fill my five day weekends is exhausting, but somebody has to do it and it might as well be me.  This whole in-between stage might not be so bad after all...

Look at that, I made it to that little orange button. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cupcakes, Cupcakes, Cupcakes!

I think we should rename cupcakes.  They should really be called cutecakes.  I went a little cupcake crazy these past two days.  Baking the real deal and jazzing up some plain ol' greeting cards.  

Let's start with the cards.

 The cupcake cutout stamp is by Martha Stewart (I hate to love her...) and I got it at Michael's along with the stamp.  The ink pad and photo mounting squares I already had thanks to previous (s)crapbooking endeavors.  I had pain white cards with a colored border and plain solid red cards.  With some bright colored/patterned paper I already had and a little bit of time, presto - cutecakes on cute cards!





 I just had a birthday so I need to write some thank you notes.

 


I might like gingham...a lot.


 With the all the red and yellow going on I feel like I should write to Ronald McDonald.

 What's better than one cupcake?  Three.  Duh.

 What's better than one cupcake?  Two gingham cupcakes!

...

What's better than cupcake cards?  Real cupcakes.  Duh.

I have learned this lesson the hard way: make sure you have all the ingredients before you start to measure or mix anything!


 Don't forget the cupcake underwears!

 This recipe called for melted, but slightly cooled, butter.  Which is great because I hate having to wait for butter to sit out and soften.  Yeah yeah, just soften it in the microwave, but I feel like that's cheating.


 The recipe for these pumpkin bad boys said the batter would be thick but that was an understatement...


  Nom nom nom.  Oh wait, we need frosting.


 Those look better!  A little cream cheese frosting never hurt anything.  And by a little, I really mean a rather generous amount.


 You could eat your cupcake like this...


 ...or you could make it a cupcake sandwich - easy to eat and frosting in every bite!

So there you go, something actually made by maura!  I'm still looking for that bakery job somewhere though...

I didn't feel like posting the recipe I used since this post is already pretty lengthy.  It is the "Spiderweb Pumpkin Ginger Cupcake" recipe from the collection of recipes in The Cupcake Deck by Elinor Klivans.  My cupcakes did not have any crystallized ginger in them like the recipe originally includes and I also did not do the spiderweb design on the frosting.  It's weird enough I made pumpkin cupcakes in May, I'm not going to go decorate them for Halloween on top of that!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Love Letters

I love letters, postcards, notes, greeting cards, smoke signals, Morse code beeps, carrier pigeon messages, etc.  Are you getting the point?  I love letter-writing and letter-receiving.  It's an art form.

Stationary - you can never have enough stationary.  You might think you have plenty, but then you'll see a pack of note cards and realize, "I don't have any cards with cupcakes, dinosaurs, stars, dinosaurs-eating-cupcakes-under-the-stars, fill in the blank, therefore, I need this pack of thirty note cards..."  Believe me, I face realizations like this all too often.  The lesson is: buy the darn note cards.  Especially if they are on sale for cheapsies at Marshall's, have cupcakes on the cards, and sprinkles on the matching envelopes.  Come on people, sprinkles on the evelopes, how adorable?!?!  Why did I not purchase those...

Return Address - I have a personalized return-address stamp - and.I.love.it.  Don't forget your return address.  If you're like me, you can mail something from school (Virginia), remember to put down your return address (Massachusetts), and forget a stamp...oops.  But hot-diggity-dog, it is "returned to sender" and makes it all they way from VA to MA.  It's just a few streets away from its intended final destination.  This is when you think you've accidentally cheated the U.S. Postal Service and your mother will just drop it off at your friend's house, but no, Mom is honest.  She slaps a forty-two cent stamp on that sucker and sends it back on its merry, snail-mail way.  I guess I still saved myself forty-two cents...

Wax Seal - I also have a personalized wax seal and stamper kit.  It is awesome.  Another wonderful birthday gift from my sister.  She's a really good gift-giver, you should get in on that if you can.  But about this wax seal thing, you might suffer a minor burn or potentially set fire to your apartment - it doesn't matter.  A letter sent in an envelope with a wax seal might as well have EPIC written all over it.

Stamps -Don't forget a stamp.  Sometimes I do.

So what brought about my post about the post (ha. ha.)?  In my attempt to unpack all my shizzit from school, I sat down to go through....drum roll, please...the birthday box.  Behold:

 It came with yummy cookies inside.
The cookies are long gone.
It plays "Happy Birthday" when you open it.
And it is full of treasures.


Those are just some of its treasures.
It looks like a bunch of trash paper recycling.
Don't be fooled.


Oh yeah, it also holds practical things.
Things your roommate gives to you,
because she knows you won't lose them. 
Like housing assignment forms.  
As you can see, I successfully kept sophomore year's form.
And I am now responsible for senior year's form.


Why did I save a bill from the University of Mary Washington?
Oh right, because the bill was for twenty-six cents...ridiculous.


 I love quotable cards.  
They are amazing and I want them all. 
You can't read them when they're in the box.
They were promoted to the bulletin board.


For some reason I only like running in races
that take place around St. Patrick's Day.  
Also, those fish are in love.  
You can tell because they're blowing bubbles - 
with hearts in them.  
That's a sign you're in love. 
Check your bubbles, folks!


 If someone sends you a handmade Valentine,
you should check their bubbles.  
The only thing cuter than a cupcake card, 
is a miniature cupcake card.


A roommate loves you when she leaves you one note,
telling you to meet her for breakfast (not shown).  
And then adds another note, with the temperature.  
That way you'll know it's fricker-frack-freezing outside
and you can dress accordingly.


The Birthday Box has tatz - win.


 
You thought Mom sent you a cute Halloween card last year...


...Then this year's card had finger puppets.



He does not look so sure about the whole
"follow a rainbow" thing...

The Birthday Box is awesome and it just reminded me tonight of how much I love getting mail.  Hint hint.  Just kidding!  I'll send you some though if you'd like!  Really, how else will I get rid of all my note cards featuring dinosaurs eating cupcakes under the stars?  I really wish I had note cards like that...

So to sum up a super long post - snail mail rocks my socks.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Under Construction

Things look a little different around here!  I have been trying my best to refresh the look of this ol' blog but I am having a few technical difficulties. 

Why is the picture at the top just not willing to be centered? 

Yes, I've noticed that the blue font color of the title doesn't exactly match the blues in the background pattern. 

How do I decide where I place my gadgets?  They seem sad stuffed down at the bottom of the page. 

Oh well, things are going to stay like this for the time being.  At least it's brighter and more cheerful than the old layout - perfect for spring and summer.  The picture at the top needs a little work.  I did my best in iPhoto boosting its color and trying to make it look real purrty but I'm no expert at photo-editing, like you couldn't tell already...

The good news is, school is out for the summer so I've got four months to really work on this blog layout thing.  Let's call it my summer project.  I need some input though, is the music nice or just terribly annoying?  That's all for now since I've been on blogger way too long today...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

You Know It's Exam Week When...

...You have legitimate anxiety about blue books - How many?!? For what exams?!? Did I put them in my backpack this morning?!?

...Anytime you walk on campus you hear more than one person saying, "I just decided not to study."

...Anytime you walk on campus you hear more than one person saying, "I just decided to study all night."

...It is acceptable to look like a slob, you need to be comfortable when taking an exam.

...It is acceptable (though I question these people) to actually look cute, you need to feel put-together when taking an exam.

...The Nest is out of turkey, ham, roast beef, and tomatoes - but they do have plenty of egg salad!

...You either have 97 meals left or you've been out of meals for two weeks.

...You see people walking back from Giant with "clinking" groceries and get jealous that they're done with exams already.

...Before your math exam more than one person admits their greatest fear in life is having calculator batteries die during a test.

...You decide writing a blog post is a way better use of time than studying for your afternoon exam.

...You "share" your post on facebook because Lord knows everyone studying is really just looking for another way to procrastinate.

Good luck on exams everyone!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Penny for Your Thoughts

Here's the story - The summer after my freshman year of college my Grammy (Mom's mom) passed away.   . After she died, my mom started to find pennies quite frequently.  I remember she told me that one day she found one while she was golfing and thinking it was someone's ball-marker, she asked the ladies she was with if it was one of theirs.  It didn't belong to anyone.  Sure, maybe a previous golfer had forgotten about it, but I prefer believing in what one of my mom's golf buddies told her.  Pennies are little reminders from someone up in Heaven that they are thinking about us.

After that, my mom continued to find pennies.  She would find them after visiting my Grammy's grave and leaving flowers or going by my Grampa's house to bring him some soup she'd made or his laundry that she'd done.  I remember when we found a penny together over the summer.  My mom and I had gone to BJ's and decided that we would surprise my Grampa with a new computer monitor.  We took our time deciding which one would be best for him and once we were done with our shopping, as we rolled our cart through the parking lot, what do we find - of course, a penny!

My mom moved me into school this year and what should we find on the floor of the brand new, never-been-lived-in apartment - of course, a penny!  A few weeks ago I was meeting some girls I had only met once before for dinner.  I was really anxious about it for some reason and the whole way there I tried to give myself a little pep-talk about not worrying so much about meeting new people.  When I arrived at my destination and went to sit down in the only remaining empty seat, what should be sitting right right there for me to find - of course, a penny!  And just today, after playing a little game of phone tag with my Grampa, he called me and left a voice message, I called him back and left a voice message, I sat down at the library and what is beside me on the floor - of course, a penny! 

Maybe the point of this story is that I am just frugal and always looking for an extra penny.  If you'd like to think that, go right ahead.  I am frugal, but I also think that someone up in Heaven is keeping her eye on me and the rest of my family.  "Find a penny, pick it up.  All day long you'll have good luck!"
 
By the way, the penny doesn't have to be heads up.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Rainy Days

Dear Rainy Days: You are perfect for sleeping in, eating pancakes, drinking coffee, and cranking out homework assignments.

Dear Tornado Warnings: You don't scare me!  But please just remain as a warning and not an actual tornado...cause than I might be scared.

Dear New Haircut: You are growing on me.  You make for some pretty epic bedhead which is always amusing.  I worry though, that without regular trims, you might start looking like a mullet - not.cute.

Dear Yesterday's Runners: That was more man-thigh than I ever needed to see...

Dear Target: I cannot believe I made it out without purchasing anything, not even a dollar section item!

Dear Blog: You have over 1,000 views.  That's really great and all, but don't get cocky.

Dear Reader: Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What I Learned This Semester

I am still kind of in disbelief that my semester is ending so soon.  Less than two weeks of classes left.  Not counting today, I have 8 days of classes, 2 reading days, and 3 days of exams.  And then -  I.am.done.  See you later junior year, it was nice knowing you!

Since exams are quickly approaching, I've started to think about everything I have learned this semester.  In some of my classes I feel like this semester has been a wash, I am going to take the exam, leave the classroom, and probably never recall any information I crammed into my brain hours before the test.  But I am ok with that.  Thinking about what I have really learned this entire year, none of it could truly be taught in a classroom yet they are lessons I want to take with me for the rest of my life.  These are just a few of them:

Maura's Junior Year Syllabus

Lesson 1 - Frozen berry medley > frozen strawberries.  This lesson is vital when it comes to the art of making delicious smoothies.  I say smoothies, plural, but I really only ever make one kind of smoothie.  Place in a blender, 1 banana, approximately 1 cup orange juice, two heaping spoonfuls of yogurt, and frozen berries, turn that bad boy on the "ice crush" setting and blend into submission for a delightful smoothie.  I cannot believe that for the entire fall semester I never once expanded my horizons and branched out a bit in the berry world...no actually, I can believe this, I'm not the biggest fan of change.  However, I held my head high when Giant was out of frozen strawberries and I bought frozen berry medley instead.  Lindsay told me I would enjoy it just as much, but I was doubtful.  Boy was I wrong!  Mixed berry medley, you rock my socks!

Lesson 2 - Grades are important but they are not everything.  I think this is the first year ever in my lifetime in the education system that I have actually accepted the fact that just a few years from now, no one is ever going to ask about my GPA.  No one is going to meet me, ask for my name and final grade in Historic Preservation 101, and base their opinion of me on my knowledge of different types of brickwork.  Thank goodness, because all I remember is the running pattern of bricks which is not even structurally sound, so does that even count?!?!?!  Really though, my grades are important and I work hard in school, but I am done with the immense anxiety and stress that used to overwhelm me when it came to midterms and final exams.  I study when I have to and try to do my best on assignments, what more can I do?

Lesson 3 - Saying "I'm sorry" is hard but practice makes perfect.  I am really bad at admitting mistakes and apologizing for them.  I know some people who are overly apologetic and it baffles me.  This year I have made a conscious effort to tell people that I am sorry when the situation warrants an apology.  I also now mean it when I say it.  There were countless times growing up when I apologized to one of my siblings because if I didn't I wouldn't get dessert after dinner...that's not exactly the right reason.  Now I'm not saying I've mastered this whole thing by any means, but I am making an effort.

Lesson 4 - A positive attitude and confidence are the two most attractive qualities a person can possess.  When I think about the people I admire and love, I don't like them because they wear expensive clothing or own the latest technological gadget.  I enjoy their company because they are sincere individuals who brighten my life on a regular basis.  Now that I know that a positive attitude and confidence are what I always look for in friends, I want to work on keeping my own attitude positive and being confident in myself - just the way I am.  These things don't happen overnight but thankfully I am surrounded by amazing people who, just by being themselves, remind me everyday to strive for these two qualities for myself.  Slow and steady wins the race when it come to this lesson, I think.

Lesson 5 - I enjoy faith much more than religion.  I am sitting here trying to figure out how to explain my thoughts but it is really just not working.  That's the thing about faith, you can't really ever completely explain it.  Perhaps this topic is meant for its own separate post at a later date.  Still, this deserves mention with the other lessons I have learned this year because it is a huge part of my life.  Just like berry medley kicks strawberry in the behind, religion does not stand a chance against faith, and that is unbelievably awesome.

Lesson 6 - I enjoy blogging and that alone is reason enough to do it but I also hope you get something out of it too.  I hope that when you read this blog, you are able to relate to what I am writing about.  I hope it makes you smile.  I hope you know how much your readership means to me.  When I see that one more person is "following" this blog or a post has gotten another view, it gives me a sense of validation.  Maybe some people see this as being conceited but honestly, looking at my Blogger stats is like having someone pat me on the back and say, what you are writing has value, your thoughts are valuable, and you yourself are valuable.  Our own personal value is a lesson we all need to be reminded of sometimes, because we are all worthy of great things.  Always.  Don't forget that.

I'd say that's enough for today, class.  No homework, you all deserve a break.  For extra credit though, figure out what makes you feel valued and tap into that.

made by maura, over and out.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

My hair is gone.  Gone.  It is off to a better place thanks to Locks of Love and Buzzing 4 Change.  I miss it.  It is nice to know that someone who does not have hair will be getting some of mine, but still, any drastic change is difficult to adjust to at first.  I am sure that in a few weeks I will get used to this new look and I won't think "...what did I do..." every time I look in the mirror.

I figure this is just the first step of starting my modeling career.  Let's be real, without much hair, you can focus without distraction on my exquisite bone structure.  I should have done this years ago!  The next step will be growing approximately eight inches and I really don't think that should take long at all.  Pass the vegetables, I am on my way to see Tyra Banks!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bonjour Blog!

Dear Blog,

Are you feeling neglected?  Perhaps you feel a little bit stuck in March?  Maybe this first post in April will put some spring in your step - even if it is hump day...

Who doesn't like starting their day by actually having to wait for the library to open.  I tried to pretend I was waiting to enter an exclusive club or some brand new museum exhibit.  It didn't really work.  The good thing about getting to the library before it opens is that the chance of someone taking your favorite study alcove is very low.  My cozy study spot on the second floor was vacant at 8am, as was pretty much the entire library.

I know what you're thinking.  Is this post about going to the library all day?  That sounds really boring!  I know, I was at the library, it is boring.  Good thing this post gets better.  After the library, I went to class - woohoo!

Professors were in especially odd moods today.  The morning began with Mathematical Economics.  Mathematical Economics, I love you.  I will optimize equations with you any day of the week.  You maximize my utility.  I know, you're jealous.  Not everyone gets to take a course combining math and economics.  I am so lucky.  Anyways, aside from my love of this class, anytime a professor tells a student that he will "freakin' fail them!" - not just fail them - you know it's going to be a great day.  Such enthusiam in that class!

Later, another econ professor alluded to a possible rap video being produced within the department.  Akon meets Econ.  I just hope the line "Malthus is my boy" makes it into that musical number somewhere.  I cannot wait to get "down with the logit" during Econometrics in the Fall.

And finally, we end with French class.  Oh French.  You are ridiculous with your gender/number agreement rules and other grammatical silliness.  Vocabulary should be easy compared to grammar, right?  Not today.  How did Madame Rose describe our vocabulary for this chapter...oh yes, that's right.  She said, "Gosh!  This is like learning something in a foreign language!"  I'd say she is exaclty correct with that statement.  Things kept getting better when she asked us our favorite television shows.  What's mine?  Hello, The Real Housewives of Orange County - Madame Rose said, in French, "Oh my, I worry about you children..." 

We moved on to exercises from the book.  It was about consummation.  Just kidding.  That's how Madame Rose read the instructions to us at first and then she burst out laughing.  The exercise was actually about alcohol consumption in France vs. consumption in the U.S.  She asked my "camarade de classe" to read number three out loud: "Et toi, qu'est-ce que tu bois a une soiree?"  My job was to respond.  So I said, "Je bois...jus de fruits?"  I'm not sure Madame Rose believed me so she instructed the class to do everything in moderation.
 

Au revoir,
Maura

Monday, March 28, 2011

All Aboard!

Cue moment of nostalgia:

One year ago today, I was packing for the trip of a lifetime - a one month, whirlwind tour to see the globe.  Ok, I saw multiple European countries.  Conquering the entire globe is still on my to-do list, right under "rewrite resume for summer job."

Anyways, I'm having one of those moments where the amount of work separating me from summer vacation seems insurmountable even though I'll be free from academia in just thirty days.  Papers, projects, tests, and thoughts about final exams are getting the best of me tonight. 

All I want to do is relive my month of train travel punctuated with the occasional schnitzel, Belgian beer, bike trip by the Alps, outdoor market in Nice, and Vaporetto ride around the islands of Venice.  Is that too much to ask for?  Yes, maybe it is.  Since I can't actually hop on the Eurail right now, I'll just think back to some memorable occasions onboard...


You can meet some really interesting people riding the train, especially abroad.  I mentioned him briefly on the (lame) blog I kept while abroad, but Eric Ericcson deserves a proper place in one of my posts.  Lindsay and I met him while we rode the train from Aachen, Germany to Brussels, Belgium.  To be honest, we both were a little creeped out by him at first.  I guess society did a great job nailing that whole "stranger-danger" thing into our brains.  He approached us when we were switching trains.  I think he asked us what platform we were going to and when we realized we were all headed the same way, he tagged along - uninvited.  There was also something weird about his ticket.  I vaguely remember some sort of situation where he could have waited a few more minutes at the station and taken a more expensive, faster train but he decided to take ours since we'd all ride together.  That would sketch out any nineteen year old girls traveling alone, right?

Well we had no choice but to be polite, very aware and cautious, but polite.  We boarded the train and sat a few rows away from him.  Eventually he charmed us and we decided he meant no harm.  He asked if he could read the TIME magazines my sister had brought for us.  We actually discussed U.S. political issues and the new healthcare reforms.  My knowledge of politics is pretty limited (I know, I know, shame on me) yet somehow Lindsay and I really impressed Eric and he told us we were the most politically-intelligent Americans he'd ever met.  This makes me think we were the only Americans he'd ever met, but oh well!

Eric was a suave Londoner, think super-posh accent, well-dressed and very well educated.  He told us that he was moving to Texas in a few months for a job with Ericcson.  He wanted to know if everything really was bigger in Texas.  He also wanted to know if people would think it would be humorous on the first day of work if he appeared to be "thug" - oh yeah, Eric was black and his idea of thug came from what he'd seen briefly on Cops.  Lindsay and I were not quite sure how to answer this question.  Our advice was to wait a few weeks and see what company operations were like...how conservative is Texas these days? 

I was a bit depressed when we had to part ways with our new friend.  I'm a bit clingy when it comes to friendships and I don't like seeing them dissolve.  We did not have much of a choice with Eric though.  I've come to the conclusion that there are just certain people who walk in and out of our lives briefly yet manage to leave a profound impact.  Eric was extremely intelligent but down to earth.  He was easy to talk to, engaging, and funny.  My little story about him does not do him justice.  I hope you are able to recall someone like Eric in your own life.  Someone you only knew briefly but felt like you'd known a lifetime.  Maybe then you'd understand what this post is all about - I'm having trouble putting thoughts into words tonight.  Perhaps that's my sign to wrap things up here.

Eric, wherever you are, Texas, London or some place else in this big ol' world, I hope you are doing well.  Thanks for a wonderful train ride and such a unique memory.  You'll have to tell me, is everything bigger in Texas?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wanna go halfsies? I do.

So here's a fun little story:

As you can imagine, college students don't exactly rush to the gym on Friday afternoons (well, except for this lean-mean-academic-machine!).  They have...other things to do...  Anyways, last Friday I went to the gym after my last class and and I was joined by oh, twenty or so other students.  Needless to say, it was pretty quiet in there and really I couldn't help but overhear this one conversation:

Dude 1: Hey bro, how's it going?
Dude 2: Oh hey man.  It's good.  It's good.  Pumping iron, getting big, you know.
Dude 1: For sure.  I am just so ready for the weekend, I am going out and partying hard because after this, I have got to hit the books for the semester.
Dude 2: Definitely.  Are you graduating in the spring?

(Ok here comes the crucial part of the conversation, get ready!)

Dude 1: Maybe, maybe not.  I don't know if I'm really feeling this whole job-search situation.  Plus, I figure another semester or two here and I might meet someone.  A couple years from now I'll have settle down, get married, and share half my shit with some girl, so I figure I should start looking now.
Dude 2: Oh yeah, I got you, bro.

Ummmmmm what?  Ok, a few things:
1. That man was not your brother but yeah, you were both totally bro...
2. Hmmm, not really feeling the unemployment thing?  You and the rest of America.
3. On whose dime are you going to school on?  If you're willing to pay for an extra semester or two to avoid looking for a job and increase your odds of finding a girlfriend, can I have some money because you obviously have some extra.
4. Oh silly girl who agrees to marry/share with you.  Silly, silly girl.  Not that I've got a plethora of relationship knowledge in the bank but I'm pretty sure I'm not going out on a limb when I say you're idea of a relationship is a bit skewed.


The things one hears on a college campus...

One more random thing: The other day I spilled about half a bag of mixed frozen berries onto the floor.  Being a college student, the best available clean up tool was a broom.  When I was done, the floor looked like someone had tried to murder one of the Fruit of the Loom guys.  It was "berry" messy - har.har.har.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sweet Dreams

Most of my posts are the result of thoughts that swirl in my head for a few days, all with a common theme, that I eventually organize into one (somewhat) cohesive entry.  This one has been working its way through my brain waves for months now though. 

I like my baby blanket.  I like my bunny, Fluffy.  I have also come to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with the fact that I am twenty years old and I would rather sleep with both my Blanky and Fluffy than without them.  Even if that makes me the world's biggest loser...


Look at how cute they are they are!

The blanket was actually my sister's.  My mom cannot remember who made it for her but whoever it was did a darn good job.  Blanky will soon be 25 years old and it has held up exceptionally well.  There is one corner where the crocheted loop is bigger than any other but that is because when I was little I constantly held that loop with one finger tucked tightly around it.  Awww, I know, how sweet.  Everyone picture little Maura - I probably have "hot budge" sauce on my face from ice cream, my hair is a mess and I just might be missing my two front teeth from an incident involving the YMCA pool and a trip to the dentist...

Now picture me crying.  Why?  Because I have three siblings, whom I love dearly, but also sometimes want to kill.  Meghan has just threatened to take Blanky back because technically it's hers, she had it first.  Heck no, Indian-giver!  Kevin has probably just referred to Fluffy as "Lumpy" which is terribly offensive since she can't help that years of wear and tear have left her inner batting less than fluffy.  And Colin?  Well, as the baby of the family, he probably drooled on one of them or something.  

Despite my sibling-induced struggles with Fluffy and Blanky, they've always been faithful companions.  Coming on family vacations despite my deep fear of leaving one of them behind all alone in a hotel room.  Fluffy made journeys to various summer camps secretly stuffed in the bottom of my pillowcase - I'm sure you all did something similar!  And finally, they joined me at college...until the beginning of this semester, when I decided to try and "grow up" and be without them.

Guess what people - I  did grow up without them.  I realized that sleeping with a small crocheted blanket wrapped around my feet or a lumpy stuffed animal in the crook of my elbow does not make me a child.  Who cares what people think about my pastel Blanky and pink Fluffy bunny.  I like them.  I can do without them just fine, but I like them.  And that is just fine, even if I am a mature adult.  If you don't like it, too bad - just don't call her Lumpy!

So, what was your childhood security item?  Is it still around?  Is it secretly stuffed at the bottom of your pillowcase or displayed proudly on your bed?  I am fond of a little blanket and a pink bunny - and I could careless if the entire blogosphere knew this fact!   

Monday, March 14, 2011

Scaredy-Cat

"meow" goes the scaredy-cat.

Guess what world, I have a comedy-buddy. His name is Chris and together we are working our way through a book called The Comedy Bible. One of the first activities in the book was about dealing with fear. We were instructed to write down five things we would have done that very day if fear had not held us back.

Although I am afraid of all you readers knowing my fears and evilly using them against me, I am working on conquering fear, so here we go. In no particular order, five things I would have done last Monday had fear not held me back:

1. Shaved my head - I have always wanted to shave my head. When your own mother suggests a rather expensive smoothing treatment for your hair, you know you have a major problem with frizz and getting rid of my hair is a much less expensive solution than a keratin treatment. Plus, do you know how hot one's head becomes in the middle of summer due to a full head of hair? Oh the convenience of a clean-shaven head... Still, I am afraid. Afraid of what my friends and family would think and of course, what judgments would strangers make if they saw me?

2. Spoken up more in class - Yeah, this is kind of a lame one but it was one of my fears. I am afraid of saying something wrong that would make me look like an idiot in front of a whole classroom of my peers. I am also a little afraid of being right and then looking like a know-it-all freak. Either way, everyone hates me and I become "that girl." Are my fears irrational and a bit exaggerated, yes. Do they still exist, yes.

3. Asked someone one out - Do you want to know who I would have asked out? Really? You want to know? Ok, his name is....HA like I would actually tell you! I think most people have a fear of rejection and I fall into this group. Plus, I am a girl, so shouldn't he ask me? I know, I know, that's a stereotype - but I don't care.

4. Danced everywhere - Ok, this was when I was beginning to be reluctant about sharing my fears. But I do think that if I was not afraid of what other people thought about me I would dance more, maybe not as I made my way to class down College Ave, but perhaps I would put some extra pep in my step wherever I went.

5. Held a tarantula - This one came about from my fear of most things creepy-crawly. Most creepy-crawlies in my life are spiders, aside from the occasional cockroach in college dormrooms, and they get the brunt of this fear. Anything that can crawl up a wall and defy gravity just does not seem completely benign to me. Plus, they could crawl in my mouth or ear when I am sleeping and lay eggs - I've seen something similar on "Medical Mysteries" so it's definitely a legitimate fear...

Then The Comedy Bible told me I needed to conquer one of those fears. Ummm excuse me? Really not fair that you did not inform me of this until after I wrote my fears down. Should I have seen this coming, certainly, but I did not think "the bible" would be out to get me! Well what do you know, my friend Anne knows someone who recently got a pet tarantula. I prefer pet puppies, but that's just me. To each his own...

So sometime in the near future I will be holding a tarantula. If it gets all huffy and decides to jettison hair at me (that's how they attack) I will be holding/chucking-as -far-as-possible a tarantula in the near future.

Conquering fear is good though. It's healthy, right? It instills confidence and self-worth. At least that's what I am telling myself every time I think about my fears. Fake it 'til you make it. Confidence is key. Just a couple antidotes to get you through your fears, people. I have found that hitting "Publish Post" is like slaying a big ol' dragon of fear whenever I put a new post up. Take that fear of judgment, you are outta here!

So what are your fears? How are you going to conquer them? Would you like to go on a date with me where we hold hands tarantulas, go out to dinner dancing, and at the end of the evening, I just might let you kiss me good night shave my head!

"RAWR!" goes the confident-cat.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Groundhog Day


Meet Abbey:

- ain't she cute!
If you couldn't tell from that picture, Abbey is a morning person.

Meet Maura:

- ain't she...
If you couldn't tell from that picture, Maura is not a morning person.
(Maura is also done writing in third person.)


Oh you morning people, always cheerful and happy. It's almost like you weirdos enjoy getting up early - it's disgusting.

Just kidding.

I envy people who can roll out of bed, shake off morning grogginess, and actually be functioning human beings in the morning. Why does any of this matter? Remember that road trip I went on, the one where I epitomized Southern class. Abbey was my chauffeur! Actually Abbey is my friend. Yup, I have friends! And one of them decided she wanted to drive about 1,000 miles with me during six days of pretty much constant companionship. What a friend! And that driving began Saturday morning at about 6:30am. Ew. Maybe that does not sound terribly early to you but after spending the week staying up late to study for exams then staying up late to pack/getting up early to actually finish packing, a 6:30am departure time was pretty much torture for me.

Somehow, I managed to get all my packing and last minute cleaning done - it's possible I even greeted Abbey with a smile and a reasonably pleasant disposition.

It did not last long.

When I am tired, I am quiet. Abbey took advantage of me in my state of exhaustion. And talked. And talked. And talked. And talked. And talked. And I enjoyed. Every. Story. She. Told. Me. All fifty-three gajillion of 'em. Especially this one:

When Abbey was younger, her family had a garden. From how she described it, it was like Veggie Tales - on crack. She just listed vegetable after vegetable when she told me what they grew. You name it, they grew it. Nom nom nom!

There was just one problem though - the groundhogs.

The groundhogs would come and eat their vegetables, those devils! What is a man to do? Shoot 'em! At least, that's what Abbey's dad did. He was not alone in his elusive groundhog hunts though. He employed Abbey and her younger sister Tess. Their incentive? Five dollars. Yup, if Abbey or Tess saw a groundhog and told their dad about it, they got five dollars as a reward. It sounded like a good deal to me. It sounded hysterical when Abbey told the story because she ended it with, "I really hated knowing those groundhogs were going to get shot...but sometimes I really wanted five dollars."



The point of this blog post? I just really like that story.




Sunday, March 6, 2011

SBSBSBRT Update!


Time to kiss vacation goodbye...

But before I do, here's a little preview of what I did on vacation
and what you'll get to read about in this blog very soon!
I know, you're excited.
Who wouldn't want to read about fun stuff other people did!
I promise I will make it entertaining though.


Highlights from Savannah/Hilton Head:
1. Eating at Paula Deen's restaurant The Lady and Sons
(Two words, people: Cheese.Biscuits.)
2. Miraculous recovery of a wallet and (most of)
its contents after it decided to go for a joyride...
on the roof of the car...on the highway.
3. Tying the record high temperature in Savannah,
rockin' that Southern Belle sundress!


Charleston/Folly Beach/Kiawah Island Highlights:
1. The ocean - 'nough said.
2. New crew neck sweatshirt, completely acceptable
as long as I never wear it with a turtleneck and/or "mom jeans."
3. Avoiding awkward encounters with hostel-mates in Charleston,
almost tops playing with cute lil' puppy also encountered at the hostel.

As you can see from those brief highlights,
the Spring Break Southern Belle Sorority Bonding
Road Trip was quite the success. Now it's back to reality though.
Less than two months until final exams and summer vacation.
Where has this semester gone???

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sigh of Relief

I just let out a sigh of relief. Spring Break is here. Yay.

I tried to post earlier but blogger was being lame and kept telling me "Error, I am being lame, your post will not publish." Ok, that's not exactly what the error message said, but that is how I interpreted it.

This post was just going to be a short rant on how I completely screwed up an exam today, but lately the power of positive thinking has been doing good things in my life, so maybe I will give it a try instead of sinking into a dark pool of negativity.

I am going to bake those french toast muffins tonight. Thanks, Mom, for supplying me with two loaves of Cinnamon-Swirl Bread. You're my favorite, don't tell the others. I cannot wait until the smell of sweet cinnamon-vanilla goodness fills my apartment.

My French professor let us out early today. I debated just skipping the class since it was at 3pm and I got little sleep last night in order to study for an exam I bombed, but my conscience got the best of me. That's ok. I secretly love the days before breaks when classes are at least half-empty. Yeah, I know, I am a big dork - deal with it.

Lately I've been intrigued by the theory of self-awareness. I'm reading the book Blue Like Jazz and it's just a small part of what the author discusses, but it seems really cool. Maybe I'll be able to find another book that talks about it more.

Sometimes, ok that's a lie, basically all the time, if I am ever in a situation that is somewhat awkward, my first choice of how to deal with feeling uncomfortable is to use humor. If you know me, you know that by humor, I really mean sarcasm. I enjoy sarcasm and dry senses of humor but I'm beginning to realize that I might want to figure out a bit of a more mature way to deal with "grown-up" situations. Is this just one of those "Gee, I am really getting older" moments?

Speaking of getting older, the other morning I scared myself half-to-death when my roommates left for class in the morning and left their cereal bowls in the sink. I actually said out loud "Oh come on guys, the dishwasher is empty! Load the darn dishes!" When did I become my mother?!?! (Not that that is a bad thing, my mom is awesome - see above note about the bread, people!) But really:

1. How many times do my parents say the exact same thing to my siblings and me...
2. There are definitely times I just leave my dishes in the sink hoping my roomies will take care of them for me. So yes, I was being hypocritical and crazy when I decided to talk out loud when no one was home.
3. I guess number one is a sign that I am getting older but number two just proves that I'm still just a kid - thank goodness!

Alright, time for me to get out of my gym clothes, possibly have a good sob about my exam while listening to the saddest songs ever on my shower-playlist, and then pack, pack, pack for my Spring Break Southern Belle Sorority Bonding Road Trip, otherwise known as SB^3 RT!

Over and out.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Happy B-Day!

The "B" stands for Bridget. Happy Birthday Bridget! I am really excited to celebrate your birthday and all, but don't you think it's a bit more important this year that we celebrate our 15th year of friendship? The 15th year anniversary gift is traditionally crystal - you know, just in case you were going to give me a present or something. *hint hint*

Kidding, of course.

Really though, I hope you had a wonderful day and I wish I had been there to celebrate with you. I cannot believe I am missing your 21st birthday after all the milestones we shared growing up. We have some crazy memories, B...

Remember when we would play with our baby dolls every day after kindergarten together? We would pretend we were divorced, single-mothers, each with a full-time job and an infant to care for. Thankfully we had once been married to wealthy (and incredibly good-looking) individuals. They ended up being terrible husbands, afraid of commitment and true, deep emotional relationships. This ultimately caused both of our respective marriages to dissolve, but at least we had child-support checks coming in...wait, why did we pretend to be middle-aged divorcees when we were actually just 6 year-olds....

Remember the time we painted hundreds of pine cones thinking that we could sell them to neighbors and become millionaires? Yeah, we were kind of weirdos...Let's not talk about the moss-stuffed pillow market we dabbled in...Remember when your mom threw all the pine cones away? Thanks Mrs. White, millions of dollars just thrown out on the curb of Heritage Lane.

Remember the time I gave you a gorgeous hair-wrap with embroidery floss? Then we decided to take it out. And by take it out, I mean cut it out. As in, I took scissors and chopped a chunk of my best friend's hair off less than 1 inch from her scalp. This was right at the front of her hairline too, not just some random section mixed in towards the back. Sorry about that, Mrs. White. I guess that was kind of worse than pitching some poorly painted pine cones (my goodness, what alliteration!).

Remember when your Mom (Mrs. White you just keep popping up in this blog post!) watched you, me, Sean, and Kevin...and we "played" Church. Yes. We set up shop in The Chapel of the Holy Living Room at Our Lady of Heritage Lane, complete with grape juice wine and smushed WonderBread hosts. Sean was the priest, Kevin was either the lector or cantor, and you and me, well we were old church ladies of course! I'm sure we had some important role but we both know that you are the one who remembers the details of our childhood. I just believe the stories you tell me of what we did on the second Tuesday of November in third grade, etc.

Fast forward a few years...

Remember when we went camping with Rhianna to celebrate completing our first year at college, our first true extended periods of time away from one another. Happenings took place on that Harbor Island - a certain raspberry-flavored "drink" (sorry, Mom and Dad!) was brought in a cooler with other provisions...a cooler Mr. Flanagan may or may not have looked in before our departure...and what do you know, the next morning we waited for an hour in the hot sun for Mr. Flanagan to pick us up. What could have caused his late arrival since when we called him he said he would be leaving right away to pick us up? I believe his response to our sun-burnt complexions and complaints was, "Always easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, girls." I thought that was what we had done...

Remember when the three of us decided to go shopping on Black Friday but actually leave on Thanksgiving around 10pm? We spent 6 hours on a highway and at one point we traveled less than one mile in an entire hour. We made friends with a construction worker and gave him a turkey sandwich since he'd missed Thanksgiving with his family. He enjoyed the sandwich but was disappointed we didn't pack any beer to go with it. We met people who we had mutual friends with and learned that they had hit a deer, somehow, while traveling at a speed of about 2mph. I have no idea what I actually purchased once we got to the outlets but I do recall laughing hysterically and having some of the best conversations ever, while literally parked on a highway, with two of the greatest people in the world.

I cannot believe you are 21 since it feels like last week we celebrated Sweet Sixteens, whistfully thinking of the next 5 years and how much would happen between then and now. I guess what they say is true, time flies when your having fun and distance makes the heart grow fonder. I hope your day was wonderful and I say, "Bring on the next 5 years, 15 years, 50 years - whatever! We're ready!"

Happy Birthday Bridget!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Something Actually Made by Maura!

I know, I know. We've all been thinking it. This blog is getting boring. Too much type and not enough sarcasm/baking. I get it reader, I do. There's a problem though:

Oh my goodness I want some french toast muffins. I can think of nothing I would like more in this moment than some delicious french toast muffins. And I would have some, homemade ones - if cinnamon swirl bread was not $4/loaf. $4!? Ok, as an economics student and a breathing human with common sense, I am well aware that I am being ripped-off when I have to pay that much for a loaf of bread. Do you want to know why I think that price is so high - Pepperidge Farm has a monopoly on the cinnamon-swirl/cinnamon-raisin-swirl/brown-sugar-cinnamon-swirl bread market! There are no adequate substitutes at the grocery store. No competing firm to keep the market at a competitive price. And until PF brings back the dark chocolate-coated Bordeaux cookie, I just refuse to buy their bread unless it is on sale. Womp, womp.

So I got vinegar instead. Vinegar and cream cheese. Why? Because of this. Could that cake look any more delicious? Despite my lack of 8" cake pans (add cake pans to the list of school supplies I'll be buying next year), I was willing to give it a try in one large, rectangular pan. So what if Bakerella's cake looks better than mine, hers should! That lady is a goddess when it comes to baked goods. Mine would at least taste as good! Nope. Foiled again. I forgot that the recipe calls for buttermilk. Cue extreme anger/disappointment. Yeah, yeah - I should have checked the recipe ingredients before going to the store, but remember, I thought I would be making those darn muffins!

(Plus just looking at the 6 cups of confectioners sugar that go into the cream cheese icing made my blood sugar levels jump and I almost developed diabetes at that very moment. I understand most baked goods are terrible for me, but really, 6 CUPS?!?!)

Let's regroup here, folks. I just ate some cinnamon french toast cereal (store brand of course, if I can't afford a loaf of bread there's no way General Mills would make it into this girl's kitchen cabinet). My coffee just finished brewing so I think the plan is to drink copious amounts of liquid caffeine and then find a delicious looking recipe (sans any type of bread topping) to tackle. I am still a little sad that I won't get to eat a bread-like baked good topped with bread, but I guess I'll survive....

While you wait to find out what I did bake, I saw this in the grocery store today...


...and thought "Why does Giant not want me buying candy or tabloids? What if I want a chocolate bar with my meager grocery basket of milk, eggs, and frozen mixed berries? What if I actually care about what the Kardashians are up to and I want to read about Kourtney and Scott?" Don't judge me, you care too. There is nothing to be ashamed of when all you want is to read your horoscope and some good gossip in a trashy magazine. Anyways, Giant is not trying to help me lead a more morally-restrained lifestyle. I saw a sign that said "Family-Friendly Aisle." They just don't have candy or magazines so busy moms and dads don't have to listen to annoying - I mean adorable - little rugrats beg for a candy bar every time they have to check-out.
Hope you found that amusing, if not, go read a trashy magazine, they tend to be pretty amusing.

...

One hour and a cup of vanilla-cinnamon coffee later:

There is a coffee cake in the oven. A coffee cake covered in a streusel recipe that was begging to be doubled. Life is good. Now to (im)patiently wait another twenty-or-so minutes...

It's like a picture frame filled with streusel!


Finally, a delicious-smelling, ugly-looking, yummy-tasting coffee cake
made by maura
.



Mmmmm...



(Here's the recipe, it just received the Apartment 428 stamp of approval so you know it's good.)