Sunday, November 27, 2011


I've always loved Thanksgiving. I think it's the simplicity of it. Everyone gets a day off, eats good food, and reflects on what they're thankful for. It's a lot like Christmas, except without the pressure of gift-giving.

I struggled to enjoy it this year as much as I usually do. This semester really has been a lesson on poverty; I've participated in poverty simulations, learned about real examples of poverty in South Dakota, heard from Mary Robinson (the former president of Ireland) as she spoke about the extreme famine in third-world countries, and learned about how poverty affects the classroom.

Being aware of all these issues, I had a hard time enjoying a day that revolves around overeating. The restaurant I work at was hosting a free Thanksgiving meal for members of the community who couldn't afford to have their own, and as I sat at my grandma's house, passing around heaping bowls of mashed potatoes, stuffing, dinner rolls, and lefse, I wanted nothing more than to be back at the restaurant, helping out. I just felt sick, spoiled, and unworthy. I wanted to do something--anything to help.

That being said, I survived my first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian. Not difficult. After all, the desserts are the best part, and there's no meat in pumpkin pie! ;)

I'm eager to get back to school so I can power through these last few weeks. I sense stress and chaos in the near future, so I've been emotionally bracing myself.

I'll be a student teacher in just a couple of months. Almost there. I just gotta keep going. One day at a time.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I'm on Pinterest!

For those of you who are unaware, Pinterest is the best. It's another one of those awesome things--like Twitter--in which you can basically do whatever you want and utilize it for any purpose, and there's no such thing as doing it "wrong." Wanna make boards of shirtless male celebrities? Do it. Wanna collect awesome recipes? Do it. Wanna network with other photographers, Harry Potter fans, amateur chefs, or vintage art collectors? Do it.

I've been using Pinterest for approximately a month or so now. Like Twitter, it's so open-ended that at first you're like, "What the heck am I supposed to do on here? What's the point?"

But then you figure it out. Follow some cool boards. Collect the pins that fit "your point." Find some cool people. And become obsessed.

I use my Pinterest for collecting recipes, cool photography, and classroom ideas. If you're on Pinterest, you can follow me or any of my boards by checking out my page.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Run, Lauren, Run!

Okay. I hate exercising. Like, I really hate it. That is, traditional exercising: running, lifting weights, etc. Not only am I clearly a descendant of the sloth, but I also just get bored. I listen to music and everything, but the whole time I'm running, all I can think is, "Ughhhh, so bored, wanna stop, I have so many other things to do right now, so bored, how much farther? bored..."

Being in Ireland really got my legs going. All that walking!! After returning to Amurrica, I spent the month of August speed walking and even jogging around the nearby track. I was doing great...until school came along.

Not only does school suck up all my time, but now I have to deal with the weather. As someone who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder (diagnosed by myself, of course), every single ounce of motivation to go outside and exercise disappears the second the thermometer drops below 35 and the wind picks up to over 10 mph. Yeah, I'm a wimp.

But I read this article today called "Diabetes a growing threat to young and slim," and it's basically about seemingly healthy girls getting Type II Diabetes because they only focus on diet and don't exercise, creating a "skinny-fat" atmosphere in your body:

"A big skinny-fat risk factor? Neglecting exercise and regulating weight through food choices alone, a behavior plenty of young women in our diet-obsessed, desk-strapped culture are prone to. Turns out, breaking a sweat is key in lowering blood sugar, because even moderate exercise causes muscles to suck up glucose at 20 times the normal rate (regular workouts are also the only way to shed visceral fat)."

Fudgecracker! That's me.

I thought about this for a while and came to the conclusion that if I'm willing to preach to people about eating whole foods, despite the extra time and effort, I should be willing to put more time and effort into my exercise.

But I won't be running. Oh no.

I love cardio. It does feel good. But I only love it if it's in the form of dancing. :) So that's what I do. And that's what I will do now.

This is going to make everyone realize how much of a loser I am, but I love pulling up Just Dance 1/2/3 videos on YouTube and dancing to them. It's incredibly fun. And it's doable, but still challenging. And it requires me to focus on something OTHER than boredom, school, or life. And it has lots of good songs. And it makes me feel talented (as long as I can't see my reflection anywhere).

Oh yeah, and it makes me sweat and stuff. Without having to go outside. Or run.

And the best part? I didn't have to go out and buy a Wii. Thanks, YouTube!

I will update you on how well my exercising is going. I will test things out for a while and then set some specific goals and expectations for how often I'm going to do it. Because I really don't want Diabetes.

P.S. Happy Veteran's Day!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Creamy Winter Squash Soup for One

I will never stop loving soup. Ever. First of all, it's cheap. It's cheap to make, and it's cheap to buy at restaurants. So if you're ever spending two weeks in Ireland and you don't want to blow all your money on fresh salmon or shepherd's pie, check out the soup of the day! ;) Those tasty soups accounted for practically half of my meals on the Emerald Isle. Because soup + Irish soda bread = perfection.

Today, I had a mixture of roasted acorn and butternut squash to use up. I saved a handful of the butternut squash that I bought for this fantastic pasta recipe I made yesterday--I will share this recipe later (it was fantastic!).

I only had one cup's worth of squash, so it was just enough for one serving. Obviously, you can double/triple/quadruple to fit your needs. 

Creamy Winter Squash Soup for One
  • oil
  • 1/4 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 and 1/4 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 cup of acorn and/or butternut squash, diced and roasted
  • salt
  • cayenne pepper (optional)

1. Heat 1 tbsp. (I used a little less) of olive oil in a medium-size saucepan. 

2. Add 1/4 tsp. minced garlic (or about 1/2 a clove). I am not a huge garlic fan. If you are, consider doubling this.

3. After a minute or so, add 1 and 1/4 cup of vegetable stock/broth. You can alter this amount depending on how thick/thin you like your soups.

4. When it begins to simmer, add 1 cup of roasted, diced squash (mine was 3/4 butternut and 1/4 acorn. I recommend butternut because it has a silkier consistency). Reduce heat to medium and cook until the squash is tender or warmed through.

5. Use an immersion blender (or transfer contents to a blender or food processor) and puree away!

6. Stir in a pinch of sea salt, and if you'd like a kick of heat, cayenne pepper. Remember: start small and keep adding until it suits your palette. You can always add more!