Mini Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars (was it worth all the hype?)

After hearing a bunch of friends and family (mostly under the age of 25) go on and on about how The Fault in Our Stars was a tear-jerking wonder of a novel, I finally got around to reading it. I picked it up from the library (well, my mom did) and then I proceeded to read it in less than two days. It was a heartwarming/wrenching story but I still haven’t decided if it was worth the hype. I loved that Hazel was quite the sarcasm queen and that Gus was totally straight-to-the-point when it came to his feelings for Hazel. That being said, I TOTALLY predicted the “plot twist” which I won’t say anything more about because I’m not into spoilers. It was definitely a deeper, more meaningful story than I was expecting it to be.

Before I had read it I was expecting something along the lines of Nicholas Sparks but John Green definitely has a different style to his sob stories (sob story meaning the way one feels after reading it…). I think I prefer Nicholas Sparks for when I want a good cry but also a generally happy ending. John Green wrote a story that left me A) wanting to go to Amsterdam, B) super depressed about cancer, and C) crying my eyes out. I guess A, B, and C add up to my preferred style of sad novel.

I really enjoyed all the parental figures in this story, especially Hazel’s mother. She seemed so kind, caring, and selfless but also prepared for the inevitable future.

This book summed up into one grammatically incorrect sentence: ALL THE FEELS!

Over and out,

Grace

xoxo

 

Summer Update: Take 1

Oh my goodness gracious y’all! I haven’t forgotten this blog for once but, instead, I haven’t had either the time nor the brainpower to write another post since my Summer Shinanigans one. A Monster Energy drink is partially (*completely*) responsible for this post being created…

As I mentally predicted, my summertime productivity levels are currently nowhere near what I had planned or hoped, but I’m okay with that. It turns out that taking care of an almost 2 year-old all by my lonesome self from 7:30am -5:30pm is hella lot more tiring than I was imagining it would be. Mad props to all those single moms, heck, all of the stay-at-home parents out there. This shit ain’t easy.

Now that I have made all of the obligatory “this is why I’m behind on my to-do list” excuses, here is the first definitive update of my Summer Shinanigans:

1. Reading the entirety of Jane Eyre: I’m actually getting this one done! I’m presently on page 263 which is much further than I’ve ever made it! I’m pretty much at that point where I reaaalllyy don’t want to put the book down… a good sign if you ask me. This has been a tough book to choose as my reintroduction to reading since my most recent concussion, but I’ve been getting better at paying continuous attention and not getting distracted. This past weekend my momma and I watched my favorite version which also happens to be the most current one, which they just happened to put on Netflix! I’m not sure why I like this one so much more than the others but I suspect it’s because Mr. Rochester looks like Mike Rowe a la Dirty Jobs…

Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska as Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre. Picture courtesy of The Google Images.

mmm sexiest middle-aged, covered in mud, hardhat-wearing tv star ever… Picture courtesy of The Google Images.

 

2. Cut refined sugar out of my diet completely This has pretty much been a success; a few slip-ups here and there, but for the most part, I am abstaining from the Great White Toxin (sugar).

3. More fruits and veggies Plot twist: I’m doing the low-carb diet thing so I actually have to limit my fruits and vegetables!

4. Run! I did join a gym, the Jewish Community Center one here in Buffalo, and it has been a godsend. Pretty much every weekday evening I head over there and either take a group fitness class (more blogging on that to come) or I hit the ellipticals for at least a half hour, but an hour is my target time for cardio. Thank heavens there are tvs on every cardio machine because Real Housewives and 16 and Pregnant really help to pass the time; I have no shame in watching awful reality tv shows. Stroller runs haven’t really happened because this summer has been stupidly muggy and I’m not about to go run in a sauna when I have a gym membership. Also, the place in Buffalo where I’m living/working also happens to be a place where the creepers run rampant and I’m not a fan of being accosted by oddballs.

The JCC cardio and weight room

 

5. Knit hats for the local hospital: All has been way too quiet on the knitting front because I pretty much forgot about this mission. Not sure what’s going to happen to this goal… this might not be the summer of knitting like I had hoped.

6. Learn sign language: I haven’t learned much more sign language myself but I successfully taught my little niece-munchkin how to sign “please”! We’re still working on “thank you”, but it’s totally adorable to watch her pat her chest when she wants more food “please”.

7. Healthy Habits: Like I mentioned before, I have started a low carb diet and I have been also staying consistant with MyFitnessPal food logging. It’s a drag, but it helps me to track what I eat. I tried the cayanne-honey-lemon water thing but it made my stomach hurt like crazy. I’m going to try it again because, when I made it the first time, I had been doing a fruit fast; the acidity was probably what did me in.

I have the free Android app

8. Go to the gym often: Success!

Unfortunate and unexpected summer update: I had to make the extraordinarily difficult decision to end my soccer career. I feel like I’m giving up on myself and that I’m not fighting for what I want but in my heart I know that this isn’t giving up, it’s doing what is right for my body. Many other soccer players, both amateur and professional, have had to retire at an early age because of head injuries so I’m not alone. It’s just tough because I define myself as a soccer player and this will be hard to move on from. I am still going to stay involved with my team at college because I consider them to be the closest friends I have, more like family really. I don’t know where I fit in on the team yet but I’m sure that will work itself out. For now, the topic of soccer is still very sensitive with me so if any of y’all are my real-life friends or family, it’s a good idea to steer clear of this subject when talking to me for the next few months at least. It still makes me very sad and I don’t like to think or talk about it. Currently I’m doing the denial way of dealing with this decision; it’s my favorite way!

On a lighter note, my summer nannying job has been an absolute joy! Yes, it is mentally taxing, painfully monotonous, and sometimes physically tiring, but it is also filled with many heartwarming, hilarious, adorable, and snuggly moments. Munchkin-niece is absorbing ALL the words she hears which is pretty entertaining. The funniest things I’ve heard her say to me have been “awesome possum”, “hi sweetie”, “piggy toes”, and “nice legs” (said while petting my legs…thanks kid). Little ones are the sweetest!

Here’s to a happy and productive summer!

Over and out,

Grace

xoxo

Summer Shinanigans (a.k.a. a glorified “to do” list)

This summer I have the awesome opportunity to spend all day, erry day with a certain sweet little munchkin! Ok, maybe not “erry” day, but close enough. I am beyond excited to spend a lot of quality time with this little peanut; not only because I’ll be able to see her become an adorable little person, but also because I really want her to get to know me. I live about 800 miles away from her (and her parents and her grandparents, who are my parents…wait what?), so I don’t get to see her as often as I would like. I want to be one of those people in her life that she knows, no matter what happens, or where I am, I will always be there for her in a heartbeat. I know she won’t really remember this summer, but this time I will be spending with her is absolutely priceless.

I’m totally going to copy Mastercard here:

Daily cup of coffee to offset the lack of sleep: $2

Hand lotion because of washing my hands 1000x per day: $5

Spending 3 months with my favorite little human: priceless

 

All of this being said, I do have a list, albeit short, of things I want and/or need to accomplish this summer:

1. Read ALL of Jane Eyre. I’ve started this book so many times and never finished it because I’ve always run out of time and then lost my place. I’ve seen the movies (*gasp* before I read the book) and I loved the story so I know this won’t be too difficult.

2. Completely cut refined sugar out of my diet. I have some funky insulin issues and I know that sugar is horrible for me to be eating, but it has been really difficult for me to eliminate it because I’m at college and on the meal plan. Xylitol is an awesome substitute, but it’s hella expensive, so I’m going to get it when I get back home and have an income.

3. Eat all my darn fruits and vegetables. Seriously, what I would give for a fresh carrot. You have no clue…

http://romafoods.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/fresh-fruits-vegetables-2419.jpg

4. Go on at least 4 runs per week. I’m going to get a gym membership this summer, so I can run there, but I’d also like to go on stroller jogs with the munchkin, as long as it’s not too hot, because fresh air is awesome, but I despise the heat. Also, I have quite a bit of Irish heritage and since munchkin is related to me, I’m sure she does too, and SPF 1000 doesn’t keep us from becoming human lobsters.

5. Knit some hats for preemies at Women’s and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. I totally borrowed this idea from Covered in Flour but I think it would be an awesome thing to do on the days that aren’t too hot. I know it’s going to be summer when I knit them, but I will see if my Mum or Pops will be willing to drop them off at the hospital in the fall.

6. Learn sign language. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but I haven’t had the time to devote to this. I want to know at least the basics of sign language and, with the approval of munchkin’s momma and poppa, I’d love to teach her super simple things like ‘food’, ‘drink’, ‘more’, and ‘please’. I’ve done a lot of research about the developmental readiness of very young children in learning sign language and I think it would be really cool to show her a few simple words.

http://medias.photodeck.com/5bb9485e-388e-11e0-96b7-d3a49101affd/001272_xgaplus.jpg

7. Make some new, healthy habits: drink warm lemon water in the morning, drink that nasty lemon-cayanne-honey drink that all the health nuts rave about, use more natural shampoo, conditioner, and lotion, and also, eat super healthily in general.

http://fitandsexed.com/wp-content/uploads/7b411370d21fd9d5f09f852d427149f2.jpg

8. Get fit! Like I mentioned before, I am planning on getting a gym membership to the Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Buffalo. I thought only Jewish people could join that gym but apparently that’s not true… I chose this gym based on online reviews of it’s cleanliness, the friendliness of the staff, and most of all, the amount of yoga classes they offer. I want to get a 4.5 pack, yo! I’m going to go in the evenings after munchkin’s mom and dad get home and also on the weekends; I am determined to get super fit! This isn’t going to be a big change for me because I already workout 6-7 days per week, but I want to stay in good shape over the summer so soccer preseason doesn’t suck as much.

 

This is definitely an ever-changing list, but this is draft #1.

Only four more weeks more of school!

Over and out,

Grace

xoxo

 

The Adventures of My Spring Break (read: Netflix, Gym, Eat, Soccer, Eat, repeat x7)

IMG_3040Oh hi sun, fancy seeing you after months apart!

This week marked the glorious point in the semester that means I only have eight (EIGHT!) more weeks of my sophomore year remaining. I tried to do the math to figure out what percent of my college career I have completed, but I didn’t try too hard; my excuse is that I’m a humanities major. Percentages are for losers (Hi Mom, love you)…

Here is the empirical list of my Spring Break Adventures:

  • Netflix: United (film about the Manchester United soccer team and the plane crash that killed most of their team), Bridal Bootcamp Bridezillas (I am ashamed of this. Feel free to mock/judge/scorn my terrible taste in reality TV), 19 Kids and Counting (pretty much the polar opposite of Bridezillas), Say Yes to the Dress (best TLC show ever), and Machine Gun Preacher (incredible movie inspired by a true story. Look it up on the Wikipedia machine; it’s one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time. Definitely R rated for some scary stuff involving guns and bad guys and drugs and Sudan/Uganda war zones.) This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means but I don’t want to admit to the amount of television I watched in one week.

Oh, and Gerard Butler is the main character. Reason enough to watch Machine Gun Preacher!

  • Gym: The Warren Wilson Owls’ first soccer game is next Saturday so I’ve got to keep pumping iron. JK, but actually not really. Benched 115lb, what what?!
  • Ate: There wasn’t any food being served on campus this week so I ate more oatmeal and canned soup (separately, of course) than any human should ever consume in a week. Think, breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a week straight. Sign of the apocalypse: I can’t wait for school food.
  • Soccer: For the first season ever, WWC’s women’s soccer team has had a spring training season. Every week this has involved two practices, three days of weight lifting, and a greatly reduced social life. And double the loads of laundry (a girls gotta have spandex). I also started coaching a 7-year-old boys soccer team in Asheville. I’m getting service hours for it that go toward my school’s requirement, and it’s serving as free birth control. I soo don’t want to have a 7-year-old boy anytime soon.

And now for a couple of pictures from this afternoon. I went out to the soccer field to shoot and ended up doing this:

Image Excuse the fluorescent bra. Oops.

Image Oh hi :)

I hope everyone else had an exciting spring break. Goodness knows I didn’t, but I enjoyed having nothing to do!

Over and out,

Grace

xoxo

 

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Eggs + Banana = Pancake?!

So I was recently perusing the webernets searching for some yummy gluten free things to cook that wouldn’t cost too much money to make. Trust me, being a college student with food allergies can be super expensive! Good flour-substitutes (Pamela’s, Bob’s Red Mill etc.) can run as high as $10 a bag so when I stumbled upon a recipe for pancakes with two ingredients, I was instantly intrigued, and also quite skeptical. Bananas and eggs, folks, that’s it!

Ingredients:

1 VERY ripe banana (the riper the banana, the sweeter the pancakes)

2 large brown eggs (I used generic white eggs and I can just feel my mother’s scorn…)

Method to the Madness:

1.  Add both ingredients to a blender (mine just happens to be an adorable baby blender that I bought for college).

IMG_2980

2. Blend for 20-30 seconds until the egg and banana are frothy. Frothy eggs and bananas do NOT sound appetizing, but I promise these don’t taste like banana omelets!IMG_2981

3. Butter a cast iron skillet or any equivalent you have on hand. Feel free to use generous amounts of butter here. Because it makes the pancakes crispy around the edges. And because you can. And because butter is totally yummy. Alright I’ll stop now.

IMG_2983

4. Cook like you would any other pancake. I didn’t really think ahead about pancake spacing so I only left room for one, but if you don’t have spatial relation issues like I obviously do, I’m sure you can fit more on. Haha, more on… moron. Sorry, I didn’t mean it :)IMG_2985

5. Wait until the batter starts to bubble and then flip it. Preferably use a spatula, like a normal person would. It will make your life SOO much easier, trust me, I speak from experience. Long story short, my dorm kitchen does not have the luxury of a spatula. So I used a cheese cutter to flip my pancakes. Yes, really. IMG_29876. And finally, they’re done when they’re golden brown on both sides. Now let me explain why I don’t have a picture of this and therefore why I’m using a google image. So, my dorm kitchen has a very sensitive smoke detector, and the stove is electric, and it also tends to get dirty. Combine that with the fact that I can’t seem to cook without burning something, I had to do some handy-dandy maneuvering to not set off the smoke alarms. Which, since I’m in a dorm, would have resulted in the fire department having to come and see that, no, there wasn’t a fire, there was just a person in their pajamas who was failing to cook pancakes in a smoke-free manner. So here’s a google image of what they could turn out like, if everything goes well :)banana egg pancakes_0

I usually eat them with a little bit of butter, and cinnamon if I’m feelin’ fancy. In my food-fantasy world, I would have them with whipped cream and fresh fruit… but that luxury, along with the spatula, is going to have to wait until after college.

Happy Spring Break, y’all!

Over and out,

Grace

I Survived! (Fall Semester Edition)

Holy mother of baby Jesus whose birthday is in less than a week…

I just had my last math class I’ll ever have to take! Here’s to being a humanities major… My last final exam was this morning and it was for my U.S. Foreign Policy class which was totally kickass. Part of the exam was to pick one of our previous presidents or their secretary of state and explain why they should be our dictator. I chose Henry Kissinger (Sec. of State for Nixon and Ford) because he’s a badass and he got shit done. That’s what I wrote on my exam, verbatim (JK).  It isn’t every day that a professor asks me to explain why someone should be a dictator so that was entertaining.

My current task is to: write a philosophy paper that’s due on Friday, pack for going home, and get ready to leave tomorrow morning. Since my last exam was today, I decided to leave early so I can be home (and I get to babysit my niece E on Friday!) but this means that I have to write a philosophy paper 2 days early…

Image

I thought I’d add a picture of the state of my dorm room. My roomie is moving (sad face) so our room is EXTRA messy! Hi Mom…

Oh and I’m verging on brain dead-ness. Too much thinking!

Over and out,

Grace

In Which I Make Some Awesome Pear Crisp

Last weekend I took a little R and R break from school and went to Charlotte to visit my Godparents. To anyone who doesn’t know, my Godparents are like my second set of non-biologically related parents. While I was there, I made some pear crisp because my Godmother had a bag of pears that were just shy of being too ripe. I managed to remember to take pictures of the baking process so I thought I’d share the recipe with the Interwebs. Excuse the shoddy photos; I took them with my iPhone that’s on it’s last legs.

Start with some pears, obv. They don’t need to be nice pears because we’re going to smother them in sugar and spices, nuff said? Go with 4 or 5 pears if they’re large, more if they’re teeny tiny like mine were.IMG_2569

Next peel, core, and cut them up into equal-ish pieces and put them in a mixing bowl.

IMG_2570Pour lotsa sugar in (2/3 cups to be exact) and add some cinnamon, nutmeg and some freshly grated ginger root. Sounds super strange to add ginger to pear crisp but it is da BEST!

IMG_2571Add a wee bit of salt (1/4 t.) to bring out the flavors and to cut the sweetness a little bit. Excuse my weird-ass looking hand. I couldn’t find an angle that made it not look weird, oh well.

IMG_2574Next is topping time! Combine 1 1/2 cups flour with a decent amount of cinnamon and 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar. The recipe I used called for an additional 1/3 cup of white sugar but trust me, it would be better with just the brown sugar! Unless you’re into sickeningly sweet desserts…

IMG_2575See? I added all the sugar that the recipe called for and it was toooo sweet! Next melt more butter than I’m willing to admit (ONE WHOLE STICK) After adding 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, mix in the melted butter until the topping is a nice even consistency.

 

IMG_2576 IMG_2577At this point, feel free to sample some of the topping. This stuff’s divine….

IMG_2578Evenly sprinkle the topping over the pear mixture (which has magically transferred itself into a baking dish. If there’s any left over, feel free to eat it. Nom nom

Bake it at 350 for 30 minutes or until the top is nice and brown and your entire house smells amazing. I’m pretty sure the neighbors could smell it…

IMG_2579This picture doesn’t even do it justice.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Or both; hey I won’t judge!

Enjoy, y’all!