Friday, December 20, 2013

Care for Salt with Your Snow?

I meant to write a Thanksgiving post.

I meant to write a snow-related post.

I meant to write a fun Christmas post like this one. Or this one.

But it is just NOT HAPPENING, people!

Besides school and work, I've got cookies to bake! Presents to wrap! Josh Groban to listen to!

Lots going on. Lots coming up in 2014. Change is coming for me. More on that later.

For now, let me just say one final word on -

how disgusting my car looks right now.

Trucks have been tossing salt around like the Swedish Chef in his kitchen. Like crazy. We've had delays and closings and people freaking out and people running to the grocery store. So, typical winter weather in this area. I love love love having snow on the ground in December as long as I don't have to drive in anything unreasonable. And as long as I can make it up my intense hill (a burst of speed usually helps as I begin my ascent).

So anyway, lots of snow means lots of salt and whatever else is in that dirty mixture that is all over the roads. I hate the gritty feeling under my shoes but I would rather feel that then my legs flying out from under me, I suppose. And as a result of all that road grit, my car is really looking like it's feeling the dismal winter blues. Sorry, pal. There's really no use in cleaning you at this point. Why bother? You'll just get yucky again.

I have almost walked past my car in parking lots because it just doesn't look right. Oh well. At least every other car on the road is in the same situation. Except a few. Really? Are you washing your car every day?

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Friday, November 22, 2013

It's Midnight Somewhere...

Definitely went to the premiere of Catching Fire last night. With my sister and brother.

And guess what? I didn't even have to stay up until 3am! 8 o'clock premiere, baby! And let me tell you, I'm never going back. You not only get to go to bed at a decent hour, but also see the movie before the other "die-hard" fans do at midnight! As we passed the line in the theater leaving around 10:30, I said again how glad I was we did 8pm.

*caution: there may be spoilers ahead*

So how was the movie? Long. Don't get me wrong, I wanted it to be long. I was sorry when it was over. But I definitely felt the length. There was a slow buildup to the Quarter Quell, and as in the first movie, you could really feel Katniss's desperation as she entered the arena. This was intensified as Katniss watched Cinna be attacked as she ascended to the arena, unable to do anything but scream and pound on the glass.

I can't emphasize this enough: Jennifer Lawrence is stunning. She is so perfect for conveying Katniss's fear, rage, defiance, and stubbornness. There was more of a love triangle than in the first movie, but I didn't really mind that. I felt it stayed true to the book. There was a moment where you could see Gale excited about rebellion, definitely foreshadowing for Mockingjay.

I am such a sucker for Peeta. He is strong in ways Katniss is not. She needs him so she doesn't fall apart. And he is so patient with her. Josh Hutcherson's eyes get me so bad. Him trying to comfort her as the jabberjays cried out in their loved ones' voices gave me goosebumps.

I almost cried once, and that was when Katniss spun and her wedding gown turned into a mockingjay. Then Peeta dropped the "baby bomb," the tributes held hands, and the Capitol citizens were in outrage. Other scenes of rebellion during the Victory Tour not only gave the audience a taste of the Capitol's persecution but of people's courage and boldness. In the final two movies we will see how Katniss reacts to being the symbol of the rebellion.

So, the other tributes. Mags was so cute. Johanna so sassy and dangerous. Finnick shone, with that gorgeous smile and heart-wrenching moments. Beetee and Wiress were easy to love at first glance. Can't wait to see more of Annie.

Haymitch, Effie, Caesar. They're the best. Effie's tears as Peeta and Katniss were once again off to the Games were very touching. Her outfits were also completely fabulous.

The scenes in the arena were so much more terrifying than the last movie. Higher stakes, more dangerous competitors, the scariest-looking monkeys I've ever seen, and of course...TICK TOCK. Through it all, Katniss struggles to remember who the real enemy is.

My adrenaline was coursing, each moment was more intense, and the finale was breathtaking. At the end of it all, I felt as though I had come through an emotional marathon. This was a movie not only true to the book, but to the original movie. Francis Lawrence carried on the story so well.

Can't wait to see it again. But I'm gonna need some time!

Friday, November 15, 2013

More Than Just a "Comment"

Why.

Why, why, why, why.

Why?

Why do I read the comments?

It's not like I'm ever going to be pleasantly surprised.

I must just like to torture myself.

I'm reading an article, watching a video clip, looking at a blog. My head says NO but my rebellious finger scrolls down the page anyway to view the comment section.

Horrifying insults. Disrespectful words. Vile language that few would have the guts to say to anyone's face.

The internet is typically a pretty cool place. Information. Shared ideas, words, creativity. Easily accessible. You can say what you want to say. Everyone has an audience.

But. People are so quick to type out a scathing opinion. So eager to engage in a pointless argument. So ready to gang up on someone with a different point of view.

We all know bullying is wrong. Parents, teach your children to be nice! Be polite! Use your manners! The golden rule!

But I'm not reading comments by children. I'm reading comments by adults.

People who write those comments: Is it brave, what you do? Is it sticking up for yourself? Is it helping someone understand?

It's teaching someone a lesson. It's belittling someone's point of view. It's stepping on someone's feelings.

It's setting yourself up above someone else. By pushing that someone down. That's bullying. It's always been around, but now it's different. It's online. It's fast, it's easy, it's widespread, it's anonymous. Mocking, biting sarcasm that not everyone is strong enough to withstand.

People are killing themselves after being torn down online. Kids are growing up typing, hammering out their blunt feelings on issues because they are learning that they are valuable and important only at the expense of others who are not as coolsmartfunfashionablesexy as them.

This should not be okay. THIS SHOULD NOT BE OKAY.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Hello, Sugar!

Nope.

Didn't do it.

Attempt #1 at the Sugar Detox was a fail. At least in terms of completing it. I made it 8 glorious days before I got concerned that I was doing something wrong.

I was feeling okay, not like I was starving myself. However, I was definitely missing out on "something."

I started feeling weak and lethargic. I could barely lift easy weights at the gym. I had heard that I might go through a short workout slump, but when it got to about my fifth workout and things were not getting better, I got concerned. I have worked way too hard at the gym to start losing muscle mass.

So I gradually added those carbs back in.

Am I right back to where I started? No. Believe it or not, I did learn a lot. For instance, how crazy dependent I am on sugar. How it ends up in practically everything I eat. I learned that vegetables and protein can be a meal. I learned more about what it feels like to be truly hungry versus bored or anxious. I learned that WOW a Gala apple can seriously taste like candy.

This past week, my meals have been mostly vegetables, instead of mostly carbs. I am working on key concepts like balance and fuel, as opposed to emotional eating. For me, eating better has been about planning and some extra work in the kitchen. Being prepared makes a big difference.

This is not the end of me trying new eating plans. I enjoy learning about nutrition far too much for that! However, if I do anything close to this plan again, I will not wait so long before eating a banana or two. My enthusiasm to try something new sometimes escalates into too much too soon. This leads to frustration.

I of course have to end this post with a new recipe I found! I have been enjoying coconut milk as a healthy fat, and this Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding has the perfect level of sweetness.

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

21 Days...WHAT?!

So I decided to do a 21-day sugar detox.

No, this isn't going to turn into a food blog. Although, I do happen to write about food a lot. What kind of blog is this, anyway? Hm.

I decided to do it because it's a limited amount of time and I thought it would be good for me. I won't be eating like this forever. I'm hoping to learn what I can do without. I can do anything for 21 days. Or, we'll see, I suppose.

Hello, my name is Laura. I have a problem with sugar. And overeating things with sugar.

Even my spinach salads have to include dried fruit. And though I try to make healthy choices, I sabotage myself due to a lack of self-control. One piece of dark chocolate turns into a cookie. That cookie multiples into a few (ahem) more. Then it seems like a good idea to eat frosted mini-wheats for dinner (but it's with soy milk!).

So I'm on day 3. I didn't purchase the book, but I did read about a lot of other people's experiences online. I'm following the basic plan as closely as I can, including no simple carbs, dairy, or fruit as well as obvious sugary products like cookies.

So spinach, not oatmeal. Almond milk, not cheese. Fish, not my beloved Ezekiel bread. The original plan does exclude some things I have chosen not to, such as black beans and natural peanut butter. Both are organic and do not include sugar.

It is pretty close to Paleo, except for the whole "no fruit" thing. I will be adding fruit in after 21 days, in case anyone was wondering. Here is another helpful resource I found that was just a smidge less restrictive than the original plan.

I know I am only a few days in, but I'm feeling pretty good. Certainly nothing close to some of the nightmarish accounts I found online. I am enjoying a good variety of foods, such as tuna, mashed cauliflower, spaghetti squash, chicken, carrots, salsa, hummus, & eggs. Knowing myself, I have to mix it up and not try to eat 2 salads every day. I am also cooking a lot of veggies, since raw veggies tend to make me mean.

So why am I posting this on my blog? Partly because it helps me be accountable. Partly because someone may find it interesting or helpful. Partly because it's my blog, and, well....

Wish me luck! Especially as 3 days without ice cream is kind of a record for me.

And happy season premiere of The Biggest Loser! I am loving the new shortened episode format. I realize that show is not perfect (or always accurate...), but I sort of love it.

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Friday, October 4, 2013

In One Ear

In One Ear and Out the Other Antiqued Copper Earrings
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Sometimes I feel like a broken record.

(And yes, I realize that expression is now ironic as records are now obsolete except for hipster usage.)

It feels like I say the same types of thing every day at the library.

Usually I say these things because people A) don't listen or B) aren't observant.

It is unfortunate that I have such a sarcastic sense of humor. It is sometimes hard to stifle the voice in my head.

"Do you have a bathroom?" Actually, you walked right past it as you were entering the library. And also, of course we have a bathroom!

When people are just passing through town and don't want to actually apply for a library card, we give them guest passes to use on our computers. These guest passes begin with the same few letters that include part of our library name, as well as some numbers.

When I give a guest pass to someone, I point out the "I" on the pass that can be mistaken for a "1."

"Just type in these first few letters, that's an "I" not a "1," and then the numbers."

Inevitably, people come wandering back up to the counter, confused.

"It doesn't work."

"Did you type an "I" or a "1?"

"Um....a "1."

"Well, it's an "I."

"Oh, really?"

How many of these conversations do I have to have before I lose my mind?

It's fun to guess which people will get to the computers and immediately struggle. I wouldn't put money on it, but I am a pretty good guesser.

Library work is customer service work. Customer service means dealing with people. People can be annoying.

Or how about when people come to the desk all concerned with a book. "It might be overdue...I don't know."

It's fun to pick up the book when a receipt comes dramatically fluttering out.

What exactly do you THINK we're handing you when we give you that piece of paper with dates on it?

And of course, the classic example is trying to explain something to someone and being interrupted. Please just wait for me to get the information out of my mouth before you start asking a question that I am currently trying to answer.

Everyone has off days. But it does seem like some people really don't care enough to hear and understand sometimes.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Confidence, Procrastination, & Footnotes.

Confidence is a fickle, fickle friend.

I've either got it or I don't got it. It's amazing how much my environment influences my feelings of confidence. One minute I'm top of the world, the next minute I am worthless.

Let's not dig too deep into this psychologically, let's just think a bit on how my confidence blooms or wavers when it comes to schoolwork, shall we?

Yuck. Schoolwork.

I promise you I used to be more focused when it comes to work. I blame the internet. Now suddenly I can't concentrate unless I have music playing, 17 windows open on Google Chrome, and a snack. Seriously, can I not work on a paper for more than ten minutes without having to read a blog post or refresh my Facebook?

Seriously. I am writing this blog post as a way to avoid an assignment. This is real.

And speaking of confidence (wow, off topic much?), I am always always always second-guessing myself when it comes to assignments.

"I've got all the time in the world!"

"I will never get all of this done!"

Sometimes "working on schoolwork" is really just me studying my calendar and planning how long I can put things off.

I go back and forth all the time. I will accomplish something and pat myself on the back, plan out the rest of my week, and feel good.

Then two hours later I am having trouble with my internet connection and realizing that APA citation style takes longer when you can't do it free on easybib.com. (Why different citation styles, why? I used MLA throughout my entire college career and now, out of nowhere, come footnotes?? Are you kidding me?)

My confidence is very fragile, apparently. I try with my lists to stay organized, but I give myself minor heart attacks when I all of a sudden think maybe I've forgotten to submit something. The nightmares aren't helping, either. Why are all my dreams about forgotten assignments? Am I that much of a nerd?

*Sigh* Okay, back to work. I've got a paper to write.

On the other hand, these fingernails aren't going to paint themselves.

Source

Speaking of footnotes, I sort of hate when fiction books do this. The author thinks it would be fun to interject random thoughts speaking as the main character, but it drives me bananas. Because I have to read every one. I have to.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

BEST Blog Post U Will Ever Read!

It's hard for me to avoid superlatives.

THIS IS THE BEST COOKIE YOU WILL EVER EAT!

THIS IS THE FUNNIEST VIDEO YOU WILL EVER SEE!

YOU ARE GUARANTEED TO CRY MORE THAN YOU EVER HAVE READING THIS BOOK!

Maybe I just want to challenge the claim.

I had better cry buckets. Or I had better have the uncontrollable urge to forward this email to 47 of my closest friends.

It's just, how can you not check out something so enticing? Especially online. Those videos that promise heart-wrenching stories or side-splitting laughter.

Bring it on, I say. There is so much information being thrown at me every day, I only want the best. Or the saddest. Or the most inspirational. Or the most delicious.

Not that these things always meet my expectations. I am often reminded of this:




But I am not deterred! I will stay curious to find the next BEST thing.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ah, Yes. Right This Way.

"It had a red cover."

"The author's name had a 'q' in it."

The main character has a cat and works in a bakery."

Oh boy! I love a good book-finding challenge!

All right, all right. Sometimes it gets a smidge irritating trying to read the mind of whatever random patron is giving me very minimal information.

Here's a tip: be prepared! We can only do so much.

Thanks to Google, I just type in whatever the patron says, then keep modifying my search terms and see what I turn up.

I once spent close to 20 minutes searching online to find a particular mystery series. Every time the patron (an older woman) remembered another detail, I typed it in. My, the satisfaction when I hit up on the correct title!

If the patron does have some helpful information, though, I like to think of it as a challenge to remember a particular author or title. (J.K. Rowling's new book published under a pseudonym? The Cuckoo's Calling. As if I wouldn't know that!)

I'm always happy to help a patron remember a particularly elusive title. I feel like Super Librarian! As he or she exclaims in awe over my skill, all I can do is bask in their admiration.

"It's no trouble," I say. "That's why they pay me the big bucks."

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

An Introverted Summer (Hint: I've Been Reading a Lot)

Aaaahhhh....

Please excuse my absence last week. I was breathing a sigh of relief and celebrating the fact that I am officially DONE with my summer classes and DONE with one year of my graduate degree! One year down, one to go!

So, I've got a couple weeks of freedom (well, as much freedom as a full-time employee has) until the fall semester begins.

That means, it's time to reread Harry Potter! I am currently on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Hello Marauder's Map, Remus Lupin, and Crookshanks. I've been trying to catch up on other books, too. Time off from classes = more time to read! (Since I am studying to be a *real* librarian, this is not lame. It is professional development.)

Since my vacation is long over, summer has been a smidge dull.

Not quite as horrible as Harry's summers with the Dursley's, but dull nonetheless.

A bright spot this past week was a party with friends. Outside games, delicious food, hilarious conversations...the kind of fun that I don't get to have too often. It made me miss college, when I always had people to hang out with.

As an introvert, it's always been easier and more comfortable for me to relax by being alone. However, introverts get lonely too! I have come to appreciate my time with friends, as it seems opportunities are rare these days.

ANYway, we had a bonfire at the party, complete with roasting marshmallows. It was perfect for a chilly night (what is up with this August cold??), except for the sparks zooming and crackling towards me. Yes, I am a fire wimp.

You may be surprised to learn this, as I have such a sweet tooth, but I am not really a huge fan of marshmallows. Happily, there is yet some junk food that I can resist. Even marshmallows roasted to a perfect golden brown.

Of course, I was absolutely exhausted by the time I got home. Social interaction is draining! But it was just what I needed. It's been great to get out and relax without the pressure of assignments due. I've been catching up with friends with phone calls and Skype, and it feels lovely.

So here's to summer! To Harry Potter! To friends, to fun, and to a break from classes.

Now I'd like some warmer weather, please.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Care for a Bit of... *Magic*?

So, yeah, I went to Hogwarts.



*eeeeeeeeeeeeee!*

Definitely an amazing experience. I only wish The Wizarding World was bigger! I did explore the rest of the Islands of Adventure, but honestly the rest of the park seemed kind of run-down. Clearly all the recent $$$ has gone to Harry Potter.

Let me start at the beginning. My sister and brother and I got to Universal bright and early and headed straight for The Wizarding World. We hung out there in the morning and then later on in the afternoon. Here are the highlights.



 HOGWARTS CASTLE Oh my, I could not take enough pictures of this place. The sky was so blue and the buildings were so awesome. I kept staring up, up, up at the castle like an idiot. We headed to the castle straightaway to get in line for the ride. The queue wound through the castle (finally, after we waited outside in the heat for forever) and we saw talking portraits that looked so REAL and Dumbledore seemed so real and Harry, Ron and Hermione were there and it SNOWED and the Sorting Hat talked to me and there were hallways and the Pensieve and I loved every minute, OBVIOUSLY.



THE FORBIDDEN JOURNEY RIDE This was definitely the best theme park ride I have ever experienced. I could have ridden it 17 more times in a row. Now, let me first say that I was a bit nervous since I knew the ride would simulate some crazy movements. I was thinking of Soarin' in Epcot, which I really didn't like as it gave me vertigo. However, it turned out I had nothing to fear; I loved the exhilarating feeling of zooming through the air with Harry and Ron! The world was so familiar, and the mix of projection screens and animatronics seemed so real and so perfect. The "Hogwarts students" do a good job of getting people onto the ride quickly ("Watch your step, Muggles!"). I saw Aragog, I came thisclose to Dementors, and the Whomping Willow sent me reeling! Yes, I did scream out "Expecto Patronum" during the ride. It seemed like the right thing to do. Loved it. Pretty sure I beamed through the whole thing. Especially when Draco "saw" the riders and shouted, "Showing off for your Muggle friends, Potter??" I did get to ride it twice; the second time I went in the single rider line (tip: zip in through Filch's Emporium) to get there faster since I had already seen everything in the queue.

BUTTERBEER Yeah, had to get the butterbeer! I heard that the frozen butterbeer was a little too sweet, so I went with regular. It was really good, like cream soda with a sweet foam on top. I'm not a huge fan of soda, though, so I got kind of sick of it after drinking about half. But refreshing on a hot day!



THE SHOPS Definitely very fun to poke around in. However, why do they have to be so crazy small? I guess I know why: authenticity. But you would think that efficiency would trump that when it comes to a theme park world that everyone knew would draw a gazillion people a day. Definitely hard to maneuver around in the shops, but fun to see the extravagantly priced Bertie Bott's Beans and chocolate frogs. I tried on Gryffindor robes, waved Bellatrix's wand, even peeked at the Monster Book of Monsters (looked vicious). I didn't purchase anything as my vault at Gringotts is rather empty currently.



OLLIVANDER'S This was for sure one of the most magical experiences of my life. I had to wait for 45 minutes outside in the hot sun to get in, but it was so worth it. I stood with a small, hushed group of people as the wandkeeper chose out a young girl to participate. He gave her several wands to try. She waved a few with semi-disastrous results as things crashed around the shop. Finally, a wand chose her. A light shone on her, wind blew through her hair, music swelled (those effects!)...yeah, I definitely got goose bumps. It was a short five-minute experience, but I was completely transfixed. You could have heard a pin drop as everyone watched breathlessly. We were then let out into an actual shop where you could buy any wand you wanted. Only $30, which seemed reasonable to me. You could definitely buy any character's wand. My brother got the Elder Wand. I resisted. SO MANY people buying wands though, seriously. 

So that's it! If you are a Harry Potter fan and you ever get the chance to visit, go for it! You might want to wait a bit, though, as Universal is adding a Harry Potter world in their other park, Universal Studios. The Hogwarts Express will connect them. How rad is that??

Monday, July 15, 2013

Who Wants to See Vacation Slides?

I could definitely write 100 blog posts about my Disney World vacation.

The best food (Nutella waffle sandwich, Dole Whip, Norwegian school bread).

The best rides (Expedition Everest, Toy Story Mania, Star Tours, Tower of Terror).

The best experiences (Beast's castle and all of New Fantasyland, countries in Epcot, Jedi Training Academy).

And on and on and on.

Instead, I will just show you a few pictures. And soon, you'll get a more descriptive post all about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (!).

Then I'll move on for real, away from vacation and back into the grand adventure that is my life.

Enjoy!

Flags outside of Expedition Everest rollercoaster in Animal Kingdom

Up close and personal with all kinds of animal on Kilimanjaro Safaris in Animal Kingdom

Breathtaking performance in France, Epcot

Cloudy, rainy, wonderful day in Epcot

Couldn't help letting out a scream as Darth Vader appeared during the Jedi Training Academy, Hollywood Studios

Leaving Hollywood Studios on another perfect Disney day

Gaston's Tavern and fountain in New Fantasyland, Magic Kingdom

Tangled rest area, complete with tower and lanterns (and poster of Flynn Rider) in Magic Kingdom

Small Minnie statue after a typical Orlando rainshower outside Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom

Gargoyle outside of the Beast's Castle in New Fantasyland, Magic Kingdom

Gate entering Be Our Guest restaurant in the Beast's Castle, Magic Kingdom

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Vacation: Strategy is Everything

Let me just start out by saying that my family takes vacations very seriously.

What? This is oxymoronic, you say? Vacations are not serious?

Well, you have never been on a vacation with my family.

Some people enjoy sunbathing on a beach for a week, occasionally strolling on a boardwalk or getting an ice cream cone.

Not my family (well, we do get ice cream).

It is not a vacation to us if at some point we are not planning, making lists, and powerwalking.

And let me tell you, Disney World is perfect for those OCD planner types. Yes, I got the Unofficial Guide. Yes, I came up with a plan of attack for each day in the parks. Yes, I researched the best foods, the best rides, the best tips and tricks to get the MOST out of our time in Orlando.

So worth it! We don't exactly live next door to Mickey Mouse, you see. We had to travel many miles to get there. I didn't want to leave without experiencing the best of everything. Also, waiting in line for 2 hours is for the weak!

Strategy is everything!

As you may be able to tell, I loved it. I loved poring over the book and researching Disney World food blogs. I loved planning out exactly what we would do as soon as we got into each park to maximize those key morning hours. I loved barking orders at gently leading my family.

Best. vacation. ever.

Happy 4th of July everyone! Stay safe and enjoy your family and friends.

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I am proud to say that no one in my family wore a fanny pack. I cannot say that about the last time we were in Disney World. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cheap? No. Magical? Ooohhhh, Yes.

Okay, I promised a couple vacation-related posts. Here we go!

If you've been to Disney World, you get what I mean when I say it truly is the Happiest Place on Earth. Seriously. Not an exaggeration.

Besides the occasional crying child/screaming parent combo, it was simply divine.

I mean, I could've done without the long lines. And the extreme heat and humidity. And the $4 ice cream cups.

But those minor issues did not stop me from practically tearing up our last day. I know, right? Like I'm a five-year-old having a tantrum leaving the toy store. That's how awesome it was.

Disney World is an experience. The people that run it want you to be happy. They want the environment to be family-friendly. They want you to leave with a smile on your face.

I have never been in a place where so many employees were so in love with their jobs. Sure, we got the occasional worker having an off-day. For Disney World, this means maybe only a half-smile. But the vast majority of "cast members" looked like they were having the time of their lives.

Right down to the guy poking pieces of trash with a stick or the girl wiping down tables. Everyone was happy, helpful, and looking for ways to make our time at Disney World magical.

In light of this, I have decided to quit graduate school and my job and move to Orlando and become a Disney princess.

Just kidding.

But if I did, I would totes be Belle.

Cinderella Castle.jpg
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Monday, June 17, 2013

A Summer Escape

Well hey!

I've taken a longer break from blogging than I like...but I have a good excuse.

It involves sunshine, Orlando, and Mickey Mouse.

Oh, yes! Vacation!

The plan was to continue blogging while I was away using posts written in advance, but that just did not happen. (I'd like to insert a shout-out to my grad school professors here.)

I'm currently catching up on homework, organizing my life, preparing to go back to work today, and editing hundreds of pictures.

Speaking of which, a special thanks to all the strangers that took pictures of my family. I'm speaking primarily of the kind, competent-looking people we asked to take group shots. Although, to those of you who accidentally got me in your picture (PHOTOBOMB!), you're welcome.

Disney World is an excellent place to start random conversations with people. Standing in line for 45 minutes to meet Winnie the Pooh sort of loosens your tongue. It was also fun offering to take pictures of other people. I'm sure that those moms wanted to have some kind of proof they was actually at Epcot with their families.

So, look forward to a few vacation-related posts coming up. Here's a hint for you:


Friday, May 31, 2013

Oh, I'll Get Her a Journal

I am a girl who owns many journals.

Journals, diaries, notebooks...whatever you want to call them.

I've got a lot. I consider myself somewhat of an accidental collector.

Cool notebooks are a pretty standard gift, after all. People must think, I don't know her very well...I'll get her a notebook! It's like lotion. So versatile. She's a girl, so she must enjoy writing down her feelings and moisturizing her hands.

And....it's true. I like both notebooks and lotion, by the way.

But I've never really liked writing down my feelings. I went through stages where I tried to keep a "diary" but I ended up destroying many pages after rereading. Ugh, feelings sound so stupid when you write them down. And what if someone found them and read them? No thank you.

As a result of me trying to write and then hating to write and then destroying what I'd written, I have lots of notebooks with half of the pages written.

There's nothing quite like starting a new notebook for class, Bible study, lists, whatever. Unless you're starting an old notebook. In which case I may need to tear out five pages of stupid thoughts first.

What is old (and already written in) is new again!

I wish I hadn't thrown so much of my writing away, every time I wanted to start a new notebook. I'd kind of like to read some things over.

Nah. *r i i i i i i i i i p*

Torn Notebook, 1996
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Friday, May 24, 2013

Summer + School - Books = Does Not Compute

I have a sad addiction to new books.

I mean, I work at a library. I see all that new stuff coming in, and my fingers itch to turn pages. Celebrity memoirs, health fads, picture books, the newest YA dystopian novel...I'm not super discerning when it comes to books.

Cruising the online library catalog is something I just can't keep myself from doing. I place holds like nobody's business! I have been known to have up to 70 items on hold at the library. Mostly new things.

So I just had to suspend my holds (about 50 now) since I'm too busy. Busy at work, busy at home, busy with school.

Too busy for new stuff.

Too busy for the latest in the series. Too busy for the blockbuster that was just released on dvd. Too busy for the latest paleo cookbook (I have dabbled).

When I am too busy for new library stuff, my life is topsy-turvy!

Everything is suspended for a month. Let me get myself together!

I remember my first summer working full-time. I was like, what is this "work" when the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the ice cream cones are dripping on the hot pavement?

Now this is my first summer working full-time and taking classes.

My head says GET TO WORK YOU BUM while my heart says the hammock in the backyard would like to speak with you. right now.

I will push through. I will! But I've got to make tough decisions to stay focused. I must place my addiction aside.

And I say to myself, good luck with that.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Park It Right Here

So, where do you park?

Obviously, there's something very exciting and satisfying about finding the best spot in the lot. You turn in just in time to snag a parking space right next to the handicapped section. Hooray!

This is especially gratifying if it's raining outside. If it's raining, of course I'm wearing my moccasins (wearing them basically guarantees rain) and of course I don't have my umbrella. Grabbing the perfect spot will give me the momentum I need to run in between the few raindrops I encounter on my way to the door!

But sometimes, if it's not raining... who cares about parking close up? I'm strong. I have long legs that work. I like to engage in extra physical activity.

Oh, and on beautiful, sunshiney days? I park as far away as I can!

I really don't mind walking. And if my parking a bit farther away frees up better spots for people who have trouble walking very far, then why not?

Mmm, nothing like a brisk stride across a parking lot. Gets the blood flowing.

And to me, the ability to "pull through" a parking spot totally trumps a closer spot. Yay for not having to back up! Parking lots can be crazy to drive through.

I'd rather walk.







Friday, May 3, 2013

In the Children's Library

I believe that it is pretty much impossible to sit among a rowdy group of 3-6 year-olds and not be happy.

My storytimes are my favorite programs. I get to play games and read stories to kids who get excited over anything and everything we do.

"Who wants to read a story?" "MEEEEEEEEE!"

"Who wants to play a game?" "I DOOOOOO!"

"Should we parade around the library?" "YEEEESSSSS!"

Growing up and being an adult is tough. Seeing trouble and sadness in the world is tough. We all have our problems. We all have our disappointments. But sit yourself down among children for a while, and remember what it's like to be excited!

We've got a couple parachutes for the kids to play with here at the library. They're kind of wrinkled and kind of beat up. One is missing a handle, ripped off by a giggling kid. I keep bringing them back to storytime due to popular demand.

I toss a few stuffed animals or beanbags in the center, the kids grab onto handles, and we shake and jump and wave the parachutes all around, often flinging the animals or beanbags all over the place.

They love it! You wouldn't believe the shrieking and laughing!

The adults watching can't help but laugh too. It's so infectious.

Working with kids is the best. I can make up a game on the spot that could be completely lame, but everyone rallies around it. I ask them to hold their hands up in the air and fingers shoot up, wiggling, faces turned toward me with expectation.

What a great age. Before they grow up. While they can still get enthusiastic about tossing beanbags into a basket. While their biggest problem is an untied sneaker. While their eyes are bright, their smiles are genuine, and their curiosity is never satisfied.

Kids completely energize me. And I love it. :)

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Romance? Yeah, right.

Let me start out by saying: I don't want you to think that we here at the library just make fun of what patrons check out.

Because we really don't. That often.

The thing is, we have regulars. People who are in several times a week and who place holds all the time. We get to know these people. Or, at least, their book and movie preferences.

Sometimes when we get our delivery of items from other libraries in the county and are pulling them out, we try to guess which piece is for which patron.

A huge book on motorcycles? Gotta be for John. Three more Nora Roberts novels? Either Mary or Sue. A brand new movie that is circulating for the first time? Rob. (How does he do it? He always gets things first!)

(*sidenote: names are changed...just in case.)

 And then we have our romance novel-readers. Three regular ladies who we know exclusively get books with pictures of long-haired, bare-chested men holding onto a rope on a ship or bending a corseted women back in what looks like a pretty uncomfortable embrace.

Not my thing. Not my thing at all.

The most I read of these books is their back covers. And why would I only read them to myself when I have coworkers to entertain?

Dramatic readings from the back covers of romance novels can be a truly amusing pastime  I feel that public speaking and theater classes I have taken in the past have helped prepare me for this.

Usually I start off in a low, dangerous tone as I describe the lord or duke who is rich, handsome, and devil-may-care. I move on to the innocent peasant girl whose beauty is only surpassed by her spunk. My tone turns incredulous as the summary goes on to describe a possible romance between these two unlikely and attractive characters. WILL THEY FIND TRUE LOVE?

*rolls eyes*

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Spider Strategy

My eyes wandered as I thought about nothing in particular. I stare into space a lot, surprise surprise, and though my face may look vacant I am actually thinking deep thoughts.

Suddenly, my eyes lock onto a gruesome sight.

Revulsion rises inside of me.

I cringe and look away, then force myself to look back.

Yup, it's a spider.

A big, thick, black spider.

Honestly, what is it about spiders? All the legs? The jittery movement? The past memories of seeing all the eyes magnified in a science textbook?

I'm with Ron Weasley on this one. I have a healthy fear of spiders.

And now, as warm weather causes bugs to start wandering around my house like they're trying to take it over, the spiders will suddenly appear.

My strategy is, first of all, determine if there is someone else, anybody else, that would be willing to kill this spider. Are you alone, or the bravest person in the room? Then it's all up to you, baby.

Now, I can't look away. Keep this in mind: if you look away, it could make a run for it and could now be anywhere. Maintain a visual at all times.

If you have to flee the room quickly for a tissue, back away and keep your eyes on it as long as possible.

Now that you have the tissue, brace yourself. For as long as it takes. Unless the spider starts to move.

Remember, you have to strike like a snake. There's only one chance here as, in the spider's eyes, you transform from skittish human to violent killer.

GET IT! GET IT! GEEEEEEEEEEET IIIIIIIIIIIIT! You got this! Smush it dead!

(Cheer yourself on as necessary.)

Now examine your tissue and you'd just better hope you got it with one strike.

If you didn't, you have made a dangerous enemy. Sleep with one eye open, your mouth closed, and consider investing in a mosquito net.

It's an option. I'm just saying.




Friday, April 5, 2013

Pssst! Carrots!

"If I were very beautiful and had nut-brown hair, would you keep me?"

Oh, Anne. I really have Anne of Green Gables on the brain these days. I need to do an epic rewatch and just get it out of my system. 

Anne (with an "e") has a wonderful imagination. I love her conversation with Matthew in the beginning of the movie, when she keeps talking and talking and switches from subject to subject. She says - 

"I know I'm skinny and a little freckled and my eyes are green. I can imagine I have a beautiful rose-leaf complexion and lovely, starry, violet eyes but I cannot imagine my red hair away. It'll be my lifelong sorrow. 
I read of a girl in a novel once who was divinely beautiful. Have you ever imagined what it must be like to be divinely beautiful? Oh, I have often...." 

I suppose everyone, at times, wants what they'll never have. 

The ironic thing is that when I was a little girl, all I wanted was curly red hair, green eyes, and freckles. 

When I mentioned this the other day my coworker laughed and asked why would I want green eyes when I have such nice blue ones? 

Because I didn't have green eyes! Because I thought green eyes were more interesting than blue! 

I've had changing ideas of how I should look over the years. Different pictures in my head of who I could be, ideally. I've wanted anything and everything from having straight hair to having braces! 

I have awesome curly hair and I never needed braces, but there were times in my life I wanted to check out the other side of the fence. I wanted to look like certain people or blend in better. 

Anne grew up, and so do we all. We hopefully learn to celebrate what makes us each unique. 

Just make it through the awkward, uncertain years. As Mrs. Lynde said, "And don't worry about your hair. I knew a girl once who had hair every bit as red as yours, but when she grew up, it darkened into a real handsome auburn."

See? There's hope!
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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Wait a Second. Bunnies Don't Lay Eggs!

It's hard to wrap my head around the fact that Easter is tomorrow.

Technically, it would be hard to wrap my head around anything. What a weird saying!

Anyway, I'm not reaching for my sundress or Easter bonnet quite yet. I'm still wearing my boots. The sun has peeked out, but it seems that there have been snow flurries in the air every day.

It will be a coldish Easter this year, but spring will come. Soon I will walk outside without a coat. I will see flowers. Snow will not cover dead grass; new plants will grow. Bunny rabbits will hop.

I can't wait for picnics in the park, hikes with friends, ice cream cones and the windows rolled down.

To me, spring is hope. New life. Getting rid of the old, the cold, the dead and bringing on the new, the warm, the living.

And that's what Easter means to me too! Hope. Sure, the extra chocolate is nice. The bunny bringing eggs is cute (though it makes no sense). The ham and potatoes are delicious. But to me, Easter is first about the hope of Jesus.

Because of Jesus, I don't have to trudge through life, being afraid and trying to find happiness in things that won't satisfy me. "But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved." -Ephesians 2:4-5.

I was dead in my sin. Cold and hopeless. Now I'm alive in Him! I have a relationship with God, and I am loved far beyond what I deserve or understand. My future is not uncertain. No matter what happens, I have hope.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." I Peter 1:3.

Happy Easter! Of course I have to share this video again!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"I Have Nature on My Hands"

It's possible you may have already realized this, but I can be OCD about things.

I'm a perfectionist. I worry. I like things to be even.

If one hand gets wet, before I dry it I have to get the other hand wet. If one foot bumps a step I have been known to lightly bump the other foot. So things are even.

I'm not Adrian Monk, but I do triple-check locks and overthink things.

So keep this in mind when I tell you that I like numbers to be even too. I like things grouped by tens or fives. I round things up or down. And I like to start things on the hour or the half hour.

When I go to the gym, it's not at 6:10. Or at 7:24. I start working out at 6 or at 6:30. At 7 or at 9. Depending on what time I work that day or what time spin classes are at.

And I finish precisely in an hour. It's how I roll!

If I'm doing different things on my own, for instance the elliptical or lifting weights or ab work, I'll transition at fifteen-minute or half-hour marks. Other people wander around at 7:13. Not me! I'll do a few more push-ups and get to the stair-stepper at 7:15. Bam!

It's how I roll. It makes me feel comfortable, like I have a sense of accomplishment.

It's nice when things are even.

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I have been known to sort my candies by color, too.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Avocado Or Avocadon't?

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I know, I know. I write about food a lot now.

Honestly, I don't know what in the world this blog is even about anymore. Chocolate? Libraries? Nutrition? Awkwardness?

Let me be random!

Anyway, I've been trying out avocados.

I'm not a person who has, in the past, claimed to enjoy avocados. I don't even like guacamole. It's so creamy that it freaks me out. Like, what is it trying to prove? I can't just eat an avocado plain. Yuck.

Thankfully, the avocado's creaminess makes it perfect for an add-in. For instance, I love it in smoothies. Chunks of avocado blend up magnificently.

Speaking of smoothies, I've been chucking the most random things in my blender lately. Spinach and squash aren't bad at all if I use lots of sweeter fruits with them.

Yesterday I made a smoothie with orange juice, pumpkin puree, frozen bananas and frozen strawberries, and avocado. WOW. Just, WOW. It was beautiful, orange, and delicious. Smoothies will taste even better when it is actually warm outside and my fingers don't go numb holding the glass.

I've been trying out some paleo recipes and found this one on PaleOMG - 5-Ingredient Avocado Pudding. Amazingness! It just tastes so rich, like it's really bad for you. For someone who doesn't care for the taste of plain avocado, this dessert is perfect because it just tastes like chocolate! I used 2 tablespoons of cocoa to make it more rich, and also splashed in some vanilla. I didn't add chocolate chips. This recipe was also the perfect opportunity to use the sunbutter I got at Trader Joe's. It kind of grosses me out and I just have to add it to things (Have you seen sunbutter? Seriously, it looks like a jar of snot.).

While I'm talking paleo, I might as well share the best banana bread recipe ever. Paleo Banana Bread from Civilized Caveman is just amazing. No flour or sugar or vegetable oil...and still good!

Hungry yet? Go make something! That's what I'm doing today! Homework and cooking...and probably later a walk in the sunshine. :)

Happy Saturday!

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Energetic Librarian

I'm typically in a pretty good mood at work.

In fact, when I'm not, my coworkers tend to get concerned.

I'm a positive person, I have more energy each day from exercise and eating right, and I love my job.

Library patrons really respond well when I'm extra nice and interested in them. I know, I know. Not rocket science. Sometimes it can be hard to do, but it's gratifying seeing people leave with smiles on their faces.

Not to mention that being smiley and sympathetic helps keep people from seeing me as a mean librarian nazi.

For instance, when it comes to:

  • technological problems (*ahem* ebooks *ahem*)
  • collecting library fines (you only have yourself to blame, but okay)
  • tax forms (I hate this time of year...)
all unpleasantness.

But sometimes people just want a listening ear. They want someone to say I'm sorry, I know this stinks. I also am not a fan of the IRS, or the fact that downloading ebooks from the library site is SO MUCH more difficult than checking out a physical book.

I'm getting better at reading people, and being able to judge whether or not they can take a joke.

My favorite is when a person will tell me to keep the change, or drop some change in the donation container and the amount is really tiny. I like to enthusiastically exclaim, as a guy drops one or two pennies in there, that now we will finally be able to add our new library wing!

I know, I know. But I'm the sarcastically hilarious librarian! They can't help but love me! 

Jeff Newman, Librarian, University of Toronto
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Friday, February 22, 2013

What's in YOUR Wallet? Sometimes I Don't Want to Know.

Occasionally, at the library, I get a peek into a person's soul.

And by "soul," I mean purse. Or wallet. Or keychain.

People's personal items suddenly become something intriguing for me to examine during the ol' "search for the library card."

(I will refrain from harping on why there needs to be a long, desperate search for a library card every single time. Just tell me...why do you need 37 different cards?)

I have been treated to seeing women's entire purses being dumped onto the counter. I've watched $50 bills fall out of senior citizens' wallets (old people! you're freaking me out! please don't carry all that cash around!). And, of course, I've hefted 7-pound keychains over to scan the one bent-up library card hanging off it.

Note: When a person gets a library card through our system, he or she gets a full-size card plus a mini keychain card.

It's always interesting to see the kinds of things people have hanging off their keychains. A bunch of store cards, the local gym card, the Wendys frosty card, flashlights, pocketknives, lanyards, beaded animals, even a tick remover (yes. I know.).

My keychain has changed a lot over the years. I like to have a toy or two on there; I've swapped out ones that have fallen apart and like to switch it up with new things once in a while.

So here's what's on there now:

- gym card (all access!)
- 4 store cards (One of which I actually regularly use. My favorite.)
- key fob from some kind of honor society I was apparently inducted into from my college (received it last year...but I graduated in 2010...whatever.)
- 1/2 a rock (it has a crystal inside and is split to reveal it! I got it for free and it's pretty....)
- house key, car key, library key (all the essentials!)
- iSchool @ Pitt lanyard (never used a lanyard before this and it's changed my life. so much swinging and playing potential!)
- mini green tupperware container (my favorite! I like to snap it open and closed! I "won" it at a Tupperware party years ago.)

So that's my keychain! Or keychains, since it's made up of a few. They're kind of spontaneously interconnected. It might sound like a lot, but it's really quite manageable. I've seen some keychains at the library that would, if swung, probably knock out a gorilla. Unsurprisingly, the larger key collections belong to female patrons.

What's your favorite item on your keychain?

take me to your library keychain
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Thursday, February 14, 2013

RIP Neville

It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you all of Neville's passing.

Neville. You know, my plant.

I tried! Oh, how I tried. He started out as my New Year's resolution and became my stalwart library desk companion. But the dry environment of the library office got the better of him and he just couldn't make it.

Every leaf was yellow. Every shoot drooped. Every fiber of his dying being limply accused me every time I walked by. If Neville could have had the strength to cry out, he would have.

Maybe he did. Who knows? I don't speak plant.

Clearly.

I took a moment to look through previous blog posts about Neville. We've had quite a journey, he and I. In the .23 seconds it took to toss his corpse in the trash can, his brief life flashed before my eyes.

Take a walk down memory lane with me, will you?

I got a plant for Christmas in 2010. I was doubtful he would live very long.

I named him Neville. I was afraid he was plotting against me.

Neville was always very dry. I tried to water him more. One of my New Year's resolutions for 2011 was to drink more water; probably subconsciously I didn't want to be dry like Neville.

Neville was never much of a conversationalist. He was pretty passive-aggressive, come to think of it.

I wondered if Neville would like chocolate poured on him instead of water. I did not try this, as I do not share my chocolate.

Neville became a mild celebrity. Friends actually gave me gifts to "sit by Neville" on my desk. His crotchety personality must have been appealing in an odd sort of way.

The one thing Neville always enjoyed was bathtime.

Neville got taller and taller, and I had to pluck dead leaves off him to keep him healthy.

Neville sprouted from his pot in several places and I wondered if he had a split personality.

One sprout stuck it out and I considered naming her.

Neville met Trevor (note how beautiful his leaves are during this happy time in his life!)

Neville and I celebrated National Take Your Houseplants for a Walk Day by...not doing it (Well SURE I regret it now!).

Neville's flourishing neighbor started creeping onto my desk (note Neville's long, thin sprouts and brownish leaves).

So that's the story of Neville. We had a good run. He may have been argumentative, grumpy, unappreciative, and not able to take a joke, but he was my plant.

Taking the advice of my coworker, who is a real plant-whisperer, I finally had to let him go. It was time to face the facts: he wasn't going to get better.

So goodbye, Neville! From dust you were made and to dust you will return.

My little buddy.



Friday, February 8, 2013

But I AM a Girl...

When I was a little girl, I remember a time when I would deny liking pink. Other little girls would say "Pink is my favorite color!" and I would shoot them a haughty look and sniff "I like blue better."

I'm sure I had pink clothes and pink Barbies and pink scrunchies or whatever. I did like pink. But I didn't want to be associated with pink simply because I was a girl. I can like whichever color I want, thank you very much!

I really really wish I could be into football. The same way I didn't want to be associated with pink. I never wanted to be seen as a ditzy girl who asked dumb questions at sporting events.

Unfortunately, I don't care about football. And I don't want to learn about it. I wish I was into it so I could surprise guys with my wealth of knowledge, but that's not going to happen.

All of this is to say, I choose my Super Bowl team based on outfit color.

Yes, I have said "outfit" during Super Bowl-related conversations. And been ridiculed. It's a uniform, or a jersey or whatever.

So can you guess who my team was? That's right, the Ravens! Yay purple!

However, the 49ers' colors are scarlet and gold  - Gryffindor colors - so that was a tough call. But the tiebreaker was that the Ravens are named after Edgar Allen Poe's Raven. Poe lived in Baltimore, Maryland. How cool is that? Literary reference!

So that's why I "cheered" for the Ravens. And here I use the word "cheered" to refer to eating food in the same room as the tv and glancing up when the commercials were on.

And, I wasn't even in the same room as the tv for the entire second half. Whoops.

This was my favorite Super Bowl commercial. Hooray for libraries still being relevant! Of course, librarians will probably never escape from the "shhhh" stigma. Oh well.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Reading Blogs & Eating Oatmeal. At Times Simultaneously.

I'm trying to eat healthy.

This isn't necessarily a New Year's resolution. I just want to be mindful of what I'm putting in my mouth. (For more on me and nutrition, click here)

So I've been chowing down on fruits and vegetables. I've been drinking lots of water. I've been avoiding processed foods and sugars.

I've also been experimenting in the kitchen.

Some new blogs have been extremely helpful to me during this time. It's very cool to read about women like me who are working to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

My current favorites are:

Carrots 'N Cake

Kath Eats Real Food 

The Great Fitness Experiment

Lots of recipes, pictures, workout tips, and advice. Unlike some of the wacky food or exercise writers out there, these three ladies are down-to-earth.

I've been inspired to try new things at the gym and eat new foods (flaxseed, anyone?) because of these blogs.

I've been making some really rockin' awesome food recently, so I thought I'd share just one recipe today so this blog post isn't a million paragraphs. I do like short paragraphs, in case you haven't noticed.

This muffin recipe is one I found on the blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. She has some, um, interesting recipes on there. She's into making healthy versions of desserts. Some are pretty out there. However, her chocolate chip cookie dough dip with chickpeas isn't bad. I actually like it, but it does not taste like cookie dough. I know my cookie dough.

So here's the muffin recipe! I modified it a bit, so check out Katie's original recipe if you want.

In a big bowl, stir together:
2 1/2 cups mashed banana (extra soft and ripe for best flavor)
2 2/3 cups water
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp vanilla extract

I know it looks gross. It's wet banana mush!

Now stir in:
5 cups rolled oats
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Now throw in whatever you think would taste good with oatmeal! Dried fruit, chocolate chips, nuts, etc. For my batch, I used raisins, shredded coconut, walnuts, ground flax, and wheat germ.

Now pour the oatmeal into muffin tins (with liners if you want, or just spray the tins) and bake at 380 degrees for about 20 minutes.This makes a lot, so Katie recommends freezing them. I stuck some in my freezer and have been snacking on the rest all week.

Warning: if you don't like cooked oatmeal, don't make these muffins! Basically they're like mini bowls of oatmeal in muffin form. I happen to be in love with oatmeal, so these were perfect.

Let me know if you try them and what you think! Have a great weekend.

dining,foods,fruits,grains,milk,oatmeal
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