Monthly Archives: March 2011

College girl’s guide to good guys

The other day when, in my personality psychology class, the professor posed a question: Do guys who are attractive, high-achieving and nice exist?

To my surprise, in my class of 300 people, no girls said “yes.”

What?! That’s just not true. Sure, guys like this may be rare. In fact, if the same question had been posed to me a couple of years ago, I would have been leader of the cynics.

But, now I am a believer.

I know I am blessed to have found a Dan. He’s a motivated pharmacy student, super easy on the eyes and the nicest, funniest guy I know… He’s what my psychology class would call a “10-10-10.”

I just wish the same kind of love for everyone else. And, while I wouldn’t advise desperately looking for a guy, there are a few steps I’d recommend taking to find your own 10-10-10.

Live in university housing for freshman year. I lived in a co-ed dorm during my first year of college. While I never really dated any of the guys from my hall, I did get to know a lot of them as friends. Plus, I made some really great friends with the girls — who were willing to play “wing-girl.”

That year, we weren’t too into going to parties. Instead, we liked hosting get-togethers in our dorm rooms with fun themes. For example, we hosted “classy night,” where we got dressed up and served cheese, crackers and —uhm — sparkling cider. You’d probably be surprised by how much the guys get into these kinds of things, too!

That being said, do go to parties.


Plain and simple, I’m just not the “partying type.” I far prefer low-key events with good friends instead of loud house parties with drunk strangers. Still, parties can be good ways to meet people from different circles. This happened to me when I went to a certain engineering party

Get to know guys, even just as friends. What better way to get to know guys than by hanging out with guys?

However, in order to maintain a good, platonic girl-guy friendship, it is vital to make your intentions clear. That could lead to trouble if they want more out of the relationship than you do…

Be yourself! You want a guy to like you for who you are, right? Well, then you have to BE that person!

Join clubs/classes/sports that you enjoy. College is a great time to get involved — And not just for the sake of bolstering your resume! By participating in things you are interested in you will, naturally, find people with similar passions. Plus, first dates are a little less awkward when you already have something specific to talk about!

Editing at The University Daily Kansan

In fact, I even know a couple of people who meet by working on The Kansan and are now engaged!

Remember, the way to a guy’s heart is through his stomach!

Finally, just live and learn. College is about SO MUCH MORE than finding “the right guy.” Just have fun!

Question: Do you have any dating tips?


Vegetable shortage

Here’s the thing: I grew up with a little stigma against Arkansas.

My mom went to the University of Arkansas, but she has always been outnumbered by Jayhawk fans in our household. On many, many occasions my dad, sister and I have teamed up to joke about my mom “calling the hogs.”

[source]

It never gets old.

Still, I must admit that Arkansas does have a few things going for it. Crystal clear water, great cliffs, scenic trails… The list could go on for a while.

Before my mom gets too cocky, there is one big issue I have to pick with the state of Arkansas: WHERE ARE THE VEGETABLES? Seriously, iceberg lettuce with ranch dressing really don’t satisfy daily vegetable requirements.

The good news is that my shortage of veggies took my attention away from my chocolate fast. Instead of dreaming about cake, I was imagining rich, leafy greens.

Ok, that might be an exaggeration, but it is true that I was c-r-a-ving some veggies when I made it back from the Orark’s depth. Fortunately, Dan was willing to help my quest to fill up on veggies — We went to Dillion’s grocery store for all-you-can-eat salad bar.

There were enough carrots, peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms to make my eyes well up with tears. It was a beautiful moment.

But back to Arkansas. Just because there was a shortage of vegetables, doesn’t mean there was a shortage of deliciousness…

Did you catch the little gem in my first camping post about how I ate peanut butter for every meal one day? It was actually a pretty easy thing to do, considering I had a container full of nutritious, delicious peanut butter muffins. A girl’s gotta be prepared.

Hearty PB & Berry Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 C white whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/4 C peanut butter (I used chunky)
  • 3/4 C almond milk (or any milk)
  • 3/4 t vinegar
  • 1 T milled flax seeds + 3 T water (alternatively, one egg)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/4 C dried wild blueberries
  • 1/4 C peanut butter chips

Directions:

  • In a liquid measuring cup, pour the milk over top of the vinegar. Allow to sit.
  • Mix the milled flax seeds with water.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the milk mixture, flax-seed mixture, sugar, peanut butter and vanilla. Fold in the dried blueberries and peanut butter chips.
  • In three batches, pour the sugar mixture into the flour mixture, mixing after each addition. Once everything is thoroughly combined, spoon batter into slots of a lined or greased cupcake pan. Batter should fill each slot up two-thirds way.
  • Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned and firm to the touch. Allow to cool thoroughly on a rack.

I was a fan. Dan was a fan. The wild hogs would probably have been fans, if we hadn’t taken proper precautions.

And by “precautions,” I mean eating them all very quickly.

What? They’re whole-wheat! No need to feel guilt!

Plus, because they didn’t contain any vegetables, they were extra appropriate for eating in Arkansas.

Questions: Did you grow up in a “house divided,” i.e. Kansas fans and Missouri fans?

I think my mom learned pretty quickly that KU is the way to go! (As for the NCAA tournament, Idon’twanttotalkaboutit.)


Easing back in

I’m all for easing into things.

Whether it’s lying in bed for a few minutes after the alarm’s gone off or starting off a run with a slow jog, I’m a fan.

Obviously, this also applies to the school week that follows Spring Break.

Monday morning, with no classes to actually attend, I still made myself wake up at my “weekday time.” (Did any one else’s mom make them start waking up earlier toward the end of summer? That’s when I knew it was all over…)

But, instead of going to campus, I just went down stairs and got going on a different kind of homework: making pancakes for breakfast!

Fluffy, Strawberry-Stuffed Pancakes

Adapted from Anne’s Food.

Ingredients:

  • 1 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or the milk of your choice)
  • 1 t vinegar
  • 1 T milled flax-seed + 3 T water (alternatively, one egg)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1/2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • Three or four large strawberries, washed and diced

Directions:

  • In a liquid measuring cup, pour the milk overtop of the vinegar. Allow to rest for five minutes.
  • In a small bowl, combine the flax with water. Set aside.
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • Add vanilla to the milk mixture and gently mix.
  • Pour half of the milk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine until milk is worked in. Then add the flax-seed mixture. Combine until that is worked in. Add the rest of the milk and stir until everything is combined and there is no more dry flour. Finally, fold in the diced strawberries.
  • Heat a skillet to medium-high. If it isn’t non-stick, spray with greasing agent.
  • Ladle ~1/3 C worth of batter onto the hot pan. Allow to cook until the edges begin to look dry and a spatula can easily run around the pancake’s edge. Flip over and allow to cook for another two or three minutes, until slightly firmed to the touch. Note: Avoid flipping the pancake multiple times!
  • Repeat with remaining batter. This makes 6-10 medium-large pancakes.

I complemented mine with a dollop of cottage cheese, some strawberry jelly and a light drizzle of pure maple syrup.

Almost like eating strawberry shortcake for breakfast!

A while later, I headed over to the gym for what I hoped would be a good workout. But, after thirty minutes on the elliptical, I was ready to call it quits. Still, I stuck around to stretch, do some abdominal work and run a speedy-ish mile on the treadmill. Good enough…

Then, to continue on with easing into things, I packed my bags up and headed over to a local coffee shop to catch up on work.

Plus, I grabbed a skim-milk latte for an extra boost.

Conveniently, the coffee shop that I decided to stake out at was located inside The Merc, Lawrence’s biggest natural food grocery store. Coincidence, huh?

Well, not really, considering I needed to pick up a few provisions for the dinner I planned on making.

Before I could start thinking about that too much, I first had to deal with lunch.

Consumed: One sliced Pink Lady apple for dipping in vanilla Greek yogurt mixed with sunflower seed butter and peanut butter granola.

Side note: Dan freaked out one day when I served him yogurt with peanut butter mixed into it. I’m obsessed, though! It’s perfect for dipping fruit into!

The other side of the plate was dominated by cheese.

Consumed: Whole-grain Cheez-Its, Kashi multi-grain crackers and a wedge of Laughing Cow Swiss cheese.

And, all together now.

Plus, I may or may not have followed it all up with a Nutter Butter, which was leftover from the camping trip.

A little while later, Dan was done with class (haha, he had to go!) and he called to ask if I wanted to workout. Feeling so sub-par about my workout earlier in the day, I figured a little more wouldn’t hurt.

I’m glad I went, too! Not only did I get to spend more time with Dan, but I was feeling a heckuva’ lot better than earlier in the morning. That’s what I’m talking about when I say “easing back into it!”

Post-workout, Dan and I had to go our separate ways for a while, as he attended to homework and I tried to get organized for school. I’m still getting used to not seeing him 24/7, as I did last week, so I eased the transition by inviting him back over for dinner. Besides, after my multi-purpose visit to the grocery store, I had all the ingredients for Mama Pea’s Sloppy Josephines!

Consumed: Sloppy Josephines on whole-wheat bread with side salad of Romaine, carrots, onions, balsamic-marinated tomatoes, feta and Honey Dijon dressing.

The most challenging thing about pulling this whole dish together was finding vegetarian-friendly Worcestershire sauce — the standard variety contains oysters. Fortunately, The Merc came through!

I loved getting the flavors of my childhood sloppy Joe’s, but with the vegetarian substitution of lentils. Dan definitely liked it, too. But, because the lentils weren’t added to the sauce at the end, I could easily make half of the batch with ground meat. Win-win for our veggie-omnivore family!

Afterward, Dan and I went out to do a few errands. Somehow he pulled up to Dairy Queen and it was like I just had to make an order. Sigh. I went with the mini banana creme pie Blizzard, something I fell in love with during my year without chocolate.

Back at home, I packed up tomorrow’s breakfast to-go, made a sack lunch and finished up getting ready for school. Bedtime is rolling around early tonight, because I’m going to sunrise yoga in the morning.

Ohmmmmmmmm. (That’s the sound of me still easing back into it.)

Questions: How do you ease into things? What are your favorite mix-ins to pancakes?


Camping cuisine

When I think of the word “cuisine,” I generally think of fine types of dining.

That totally doesn’t apply to camping cuisine.

Although I still managed to have a decently well-rounded diet, it was far from usual. In fact, there was one day that I had some type of peanut (either peanut butter or regulars peanuts) for every single meal. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert!

I guess I was just supporting local food…

Here’s a look back on what I did — and didn’t — eat.

Breakfasts: These were some of my favorite meals of the trip! Because we were around the campsite, we were able to get creative!

One morning, I woke up to Dan already tending a fire and working on pancakes and coffee.

My hero!

Instead of hauling along syrup, Dan and I just went with the toppings we had.

Consumed: Pancakes topped with peanut butter, strawberry jelly and banana slices!

I was a very happy girl.

Another morning, we planned ahead to make hash browns.

The whole process started the night before, when we cooked from foil-wrapped potatoes on the coals of the campfire.

The next morning, I chopped the cooked, cooled potatoes up. Then we threw them in a skillet with some butter pads that we may or may not have taken from a restaurant the night before.

Seasoned with salt and pepper and dipped in mustard, they were perfect!

Lunches: These were definitely our most standard meals of the day. Because we were usually eating on the go, each morning, I packed up two ham sandwiches for Dan, one PB&J sandwich for me, a couple of apples and clementines. Plus, extra, extra water — Always bring more than you think you’ll need!

Dinners: Whereas we planned to eat breakfasts and lunches at the campsite, we decided it would be best to go out to eat for dinners.

On the first night, we were new to town and ravenously hungry. So, instead of asking around for suggestions, we went to the first restaurant we found: The Wing Shack and Cheeseburger Grill.

Need I say there aren’t too many vegetarian options around Mountain View, Arkansas?

I went with the only meat-free entrée.

Consumed: Penne with white sauce and Texas toast.

Most. Flavorless. Pasta. Ever.

Seriously, a little salt and pepper would have gone a long way!

Fortunately, I had peanuts to bulk the meal up.

Lots and lots of peanuts.

The next night, we heeded more advice and went to Angler’s, a steak and seafood restaurant situated right on the White River.

Con: Super slow service. I was about to chew my arm off.

Pro: VEGGIE BURGERS.

In my hunger, I forgot to take a picture of my meal. Same thing goes for two days later when we went back to the same place. What can I say, camping makes a girl hungry!

I did get a little kick out of the menu at the final restaurant we went to…

Did you catch that? As a SIDE DISH, you can order chicken strips, shrimp and fish. Aren’t those usually entrées?

Guess that’s Arkansas for ya’…

Desserts: It’s not surprise that I have a major sweet tooth and that definitely held true for when we were camping. The only problem was that the standard camping dessert is out of the question for me: Marshmallows contain gelatin, which isn’t vegetarian-friendly.

Still, we bought some marshmallows for Dan to make s’mores — Even though he opted to roast some Peeps on one night!

I still got in on some roasting fun, by slicing open a banana, filling it with a little peanut butter, wrapping it all in aluminum foil and placing it over the fire.

There also may or may not have been some Nutter Butters to snack on.

All in all, I was very satisfied with the food. That being said, I see a big salad in my near future.

Question: What’s your ideal camping food?

 


Spring breaking

What a difference two little letters can make.

Take it from me, ARkansas is much different from Kansas!

Dan and I certainly discovered that this previous week when we drove down to the Ozarks of Arkansas for a spring break getaway!

While some college friends were enjoying the time relaxing on a beach or lying low back in Lawrence, Dan and I squeezed the most out of every day with adventures, fun and lots of exercise! Here’s a look back…

Monday: After staying up until 2 o’clock the night before with packing and loading up the truck, Dan and I still manged to wake up at 8 to hit the road southeast.

Six-ish hours later, we arrived in the little town of Fifty Six, Arkansas.

Emphasis on “little.”

Then, we found our way down, deep into the center of Orark National Forest to stake out a camping spot.

First things first, we got everything set up and arranged. Work first, play later!

With our quaint “home” set up, we set back out to explore.

Our site was situated next to a creek — We even had to drive across it to get to our camping ground! Apparently they don’t believe in bridges in Arkansas…

Another thing I loved about the space was there was just that: a lot of space! We had a good 50 meters between our camping site and our neighbors’.

The rest of the day was spent exploring the nearby town of Mountain View. With a population of 2,000, it put Fifty Six to shame!

We grabbed dinner in town, but I’m going to go into the details of all that in a post tomorrow. Basically, camping-style food is a very different breed than what I’m used to back home, but I still made do!

The night ended with a campfire and a very early bedtime…

Tuesday: There was one main thing on our minds when Dan and I woke up on Tuesday morning: Hiking!

Dan did a great job of scouting everything out before heading down to Arkansas, so we knew exactly where to go to find the best trails. We decided to start on a 10 mile out-and-back trail from our camping site to another small town.

Along the way, we found a bamboo forest, steep cliffs, clear streams, groups of colorful butterflies and even a previously carved stump with our initials on it!

At the turn-around point, we took a break to eat lunch.

Then it was time to hike back!

All in all, it took us right around five hours to hike the whole loop. It was certainly a little more strenuous than 10 miles on a track!

Suffice it to say, I was a little tired by the time we finished up. Apparently Dan was, too, because we both ended up crashing for a two-hour nap! Then it was time for dinner, another campfire and ANOTHER early bedtime. I swear we didn’t stay up past 10 o’clock the whole trip!

Wednesday: Originally, we were planning to mountain bike on Wednesday, but after Tuesday’s hike, we decided to space the activity out a little bit. Instead, we took Wednesday as a more relaxing day. By that, I mean touring caverns and spending the day by the lake.

First up, we went over to the Blanchard Springs Caverns, just up the road from our campsite. For a very, very reasonable price, we got an hour-long tour deep into the incredible caverns.

I’ve been on a few cavern tours before, but this was one of the best!

I wish I could add some perspective to these photos, because the stalactites and stalagmites were h-u-g-e! Fifty people holding hands probably couldn’t even wrap around this column.

Our interest was piqued, so after the tour we had to head over to the site where the fresh water springs out of the caverns!

Truly wonderous.

Apparently, Dan and I weren’t the only people who thought that, either. When we were walking up, there was a small group of leather-clad bikers having a wedding! Seriously! They were signing the marriage certificate and everything!

After spending a few minutes taking in the sight, we headed back to the campsite for lunch and to pick up Dan’s fishing gear. The rest of the afternoon was spent next to the lake.

Dan took care of the fishing, while I caught up on some reading.

Although Dan didn’t catch any fish (mid-day isn’t a great time), we did spot some wildlife!

A huge beaver was sunning on the shoreline just 20 meters away from us!

After dinner in town, it was another night, another campfire.

Thursday: Mostly rested from Tuesday’s hike, we were ready for a little more physical exercise! This time, we loaded up the bikes and headed up to the top of the hills mountains. Yeah, it was straight-up mountain biking.

We started off on a four-mile “advanced” loop that eventually brought us up the an amazing view of the White River and surrounding area.

It’s “advanced” for a reason, not only was it super technical, but it also took a good amount of strength.

But we had what it took…

Truth be told, we did have to do a good amount of walking for the first third of the loop. With steep downhills on loose rocks and hard uphill climbs with boulders as obstacles, we just didn’t want to risk anything.

Fortunately, the last part was a little more — uhm — possible.

We ended back on the parking lot for a quick lunch before taking off on a seven-mile “intermediate” trail.

Note: That picture was of an “easy” part of the trail.

I don’t know what the levels were based on, but Dan and I both thought the second trail was actually more difficult! There were three miles that went straight uphill with no relief.

Good stuff, my friends.

After cleaning up, Dan and I headed back into town for one last dinner, then back to the campsite for a final campfire.

Friday: Overnight temperatures got down near 40 degrees, plus there was an unexpected rainstorm that shook the tent up during the night. In other words, it was the right time to get everything packed up and head back to Kansas.

It was a little bittersweet…

Although the sweetness was enhanced a little bit, by being able to make a detour by Eureka Springs, where my dad is on a fishing trip.

(A group of my dad’s friends have been meeting up to go fishing every spring for the past 27 years. How cool is that?)

A long drive later, Dan and I made it back to Kansas.

Now it’s snowing.

Spring break is officially over.

Questions: Did you have any spring break plans — or even getaways if you don’t get the luxury of a week off from school? Have you ever been camping?


I’m a baby…

I’ve been gone for a while. Did you notice?

I won’t blame you if you didn’t, because the posts continued as scheduled. I just didn’t want you all to feel abandoned…

As for me, I promise I have a legitimate excuse for not being around: It was spring break and I was in the Ozarks of Arkansas for a little camping adventure with Dan! A complete recap is coming up tomorrow, but in the meantime, here’s what I am up to now.

In a word: NOTHING.

Four days in the wilderness sure was fun, but it made my allergies flare up like nothing else. Fortunately, it must have been a delayed response, because I didn’t get sneezy ant stuffy until the last day. When it hit, it just hit hard.

I was passed out for most of the car ride back yesterday and then managed to stay awake only long enough to see KU win in the Sweet Sixteen.

Today, I’m taking it easy, happy to have swapped by sleeping bag for a real bed. In fact, I would have been totally content staying inside for the entire day. The only problem was that my fridge was bare, bare empty.

So, I gritted my teeth and headed out to the store.

This picture doesn’t snow it very well, but it was snowing.

Snowing!

It’s spring freakin’ break!

When I got back, I threw together a wonderful comfort food-for-sick girl meal.

Consumed: Grilled tomato and cheese sandwich on whole-wheat bread.

And what is a grilled cheese sandwich without a bowl of tomato soup?

Trader Joe’s tomato and roasted red pepper soup, to be specific!

Now, I’m sitting back, catching up on tv and enjoying the warmth of my house — Nothing like a camping trip to make ya’ grateful!

Question: Do you have a go-to sick comfort food?

I usually stick with saltines and ginger ale. Yesterday, I searched high and low for ginger ale at a gas station, but it wasn’t to be found! Instead I settled on Fresca — Definitely not the same.


My vegetarianism

It’s kind of funny, the little things I’ve been most concerned with about getting married…

I know that Dan and I have similar philosophies about money, similar goals for life and very similar values. Those things don’t cause me any anxiety.

One thing I am worried about, however, is what I will cook for my husband-to-be. Sure, I have better than average cooking skills, especially compared with most college students. But, there is one food group I am wholly unfamiliar with: meat.

Since getting engaged, I’ve been playing around with making different meat dishes for Dan while making vegetarian dishes for myself. And, I feel it’s important to say that I’m alright with this. I have no problem with the ethics of cooking meat for Dan, I just have a problem with actually knowing how to do it…

To really explain this, I think it would be best to take you back to the beginning of why I decided to become a vegetarian as well as why I am content with other people eating meat.

I was never a big fan of red meat or fish. In the “Book About Me” that I filled out in 1997, I even said that burgers were my least favorite foods. Nonetheless, I was far, far from being a vegetarian for my whole childhood. I ordered chicken fingers every chance I got and the vast majority of meals at my family’s home consisted for chicken and potatoes.

It wasn’t until the summer before I began high school that I started contemplating vegetarianism. While surfing around the web, I happened upon a P.E.T.A. video about unethical treatment of animals. I just couldn’t shake the images…

When I went off to camp the next week, I decided to try out being a “pesco-pollo vegetarian,” meaning I would still eat poultry and fish, but no red meat.

The “experiment” went off without a hitch as camp, but I was still hesitant to tell my parents about it when I returned home. Would they understand? Would they support me? While I was still trying to figure that out, I just avoided red meat at family meals. Instead, I came up with excuses for why I was refusing the meal… It wasn’t until a few weeks into my semi-vegetarianism that I finally told my parents I was done with red meat.

To my pleasure, they were fine with my decision. This is probably because it didn’t make too much of a difference to my diet. As mentioned, I never was big on red meat. So, instead of eating it once or twice a week, I just cut it out all together.

I went about this way for a few years and simply felt better by not eating red meat. To some extent, this was about not feeling “right” with eating red meat. To some extent, this was about believing it was healthier. To some extent, this was just about something I couldn’t explain.

Whatever the reason, sometime during high school, I also decided to cut out fish. I practically never ate it, so it wasn’t a big deal to me.

It wasn’t until I moved away to college that I really toyed with the idea of becoming a full vegetarian (no red meat, fish, poultry or “anything that walked”). Whereas chicken dominated the majority of meals at home, my school’s dining hall offered plenty of vegetarian options for me to play around with. I decided to make a resolution: The day after donating blood, I was going to try to go all vegetarian.

One week, two weeks, three weeks… I still had plenty of food options as well as plenty of energy. I just kept going with it.

When two friends and I moved into an apartment sophomore year, we talked about cooking meals together. To make it easier, I said I would probably go back to eating chicken. But, when push came to shove, I just couldn’t do it. I had NO desire to eat meat.

So, I never did. And, chances are, I never will.

This is a personal decision. Because of that, I don’t think it’s right to push it on anyone else. Don’t get me wrong — I am fully, fully supportive and very encouraging of people who decide to choose vegetarianism. I just know it might not be right for everyone.

Personally, I LOVE being a vegetarian, not only because it sets better with my conscience, but also because it pushes me to try new foods, discover different kinds of protein and explore local varieties of food.

Now, as I learn to cook for Dan, my vegetarianism is going to push me in a different way. I’m going to do my best to cook the foods he likes — but you can be sure I’ll still put my healthy spins on them!

Questions: What’s your opinion on vegetarianism? Would you be alright with a spouse who choses a different diet than you?

I means a lot to me that Dan respects my decision to be a vegetarian. At the same time, I respect his decision not to be.