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Self-Portrait: 2

Picture it. It’s 8 am, people are calling asking questions they deem important, but are really stupid ones that could be found online with a quick search, and I have to smile and pretend like everything is okay and that I am happy to be at work.

Now imagine that scenario with me not running on coffee.

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I’m not a morning person. I never have been, and I shutter to think that I will never be. It takes two cups of coffee to make me human enough to function. And forget having a conversation with me if I’m running too late to make coffee (which, unfortunately, happens a little too often). I’m zoned out, can focus, and am basically a walking zombie. If your not careful, I might even eat your brains.

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Self-Portrait: 1

So I was little confused on the whole self portrait thing. What exactly is a self-Portrait in the sense that Professor Morgan is asking? Do I upload a couple of pictures from my life that I feel capture who I really am? Do I post a piece of my writing where I lay my heart out on the line? Do I just find things on the internet that I enjoy?

I didn’t know where to start, what to share, what I wanted people to know about me, what I did want people to know about me…

The first object, I guess, in this little mini series of self-Portraits is pictured below.

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Found on Pintrest

I know I’ve already talked about it (a lot) and it’s probably something everyone who’s ever met me knows, but books. If I could pick just one thing that could tell you who I am, it would be books.

I have a growing collection, and my dream house as a walk in library in it. Screw the walk-in closet that most girls dream of- my clothes end up on the floor most of the time anyways.

My love for books goes back years. Reading has always been something I was really good at- I was at a 12th grade reading level by the time I was in 4th grade.

It was also something that got me away from the bullies in elementary school, the family drama in middle school, and the stress of high school. A lot of the times books were the only thing helping me hold on.

I can loose myself in a book as soon as I open it. Everyone in my family knows that if I have a book in my hand, I’m probably not going to listen to was word that is said to me. They also know that I always travel with at least 3 books in my purse, whether it’s just going to the grocery store, work, or running errands.

And don’t even get me started on the feeling I get when I buy books. It’s IMG_3088like falling in love. It’s like standing on the edge of something that can change your life forever. There’s butterflies, knots and twists, excitement, anxiety, absolute joy.

 

If there is one thing I’m addicted to it’s books.

Tips for Staying Positive and Reducing Stress

This past week has been nothing short of hell. Between work, Student Senate, homework, and keeping a home, I’ve been losing my mind. Thankfully I have a boyfriend that knows exactly what to do to keep me from having a mental breakdown (he cleaned the whole house for me the other day).

In addition to having someone make things easier for me, there are a couple of things I make sure to do daily in order to keep my head.

1. Downtime

School and work are important, but so is your mind. Having downtime for just yourself gives you the break you need to be healthy mentally. Giving yourself time just to do whatever you want, gives you what you need to be more focused for your school work and etc..

Downtime can also be a reward for a busy week. Plan a movie or dinner date, read that book you’ve been meaning to get too, take a nap, whatever you want to do.

2. Keeping Up

Falling behind on what needs to be done can add even more stress.

Make a ‘to-do’ list. Write down everything that needs to get done (I like to have everything written down 2 weeks in advance). Marking off the items on the list can bring a sense of productivity, like you’re actually getting stuff done.

It’ll also reduce stress if you work in advance. If you have a paper due in 3 weeks, start on it when you’re not as busy. This will reduce the stress you’ll have when the deadline nears, and it’ll also keep you ahead of the game for a couple of days.

3. Attitude

Attitude is a big one. Obviously, it’s hard when it seems like everything is bearing down on you and you feel like your suffocating, but your outlook could make that feel seem worse than it is. If your feeling particularly low, look to the future. One this I do is think about what all this school work is going to lead me too. After graduation, I plan on traveling before graduate school, so I start to plan my trip. I look at restaurants I want to try, things I want to see, or places I want to go. I tell myself that all of this stress is to get me there.

Or I think about my future husband and kids. In order to have my dream house, to own 58 dogs (ok, maybe only 5), to be able to take awesome vacations, help provide for my family, help buy my parents something awesome in thanks for everything they have done for me, I need to graduate and get a good job. And in order to do that, I need to write this paper, or read this book, or ace this exam.

 

 

These are just three things that I do in order to make my life seem a little less crazy. I hope it works for you!

And please, if you have any suggestions, please comment below!

Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Ingredients:

3 large garlic cloves, minced                                                        1 cup mozzarella cheese,                                                                                                                       shredded

1 small jar (3-4 oz) sun-dried tomatoes in oil                           8-oz penne pasta

1 lb. chicken tenders                                                                      1 tbsp. basil

Salt                                                                                                 ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper                                                                                                                   flakes

Paprika                                                                                           ½ cup reserved cooked                                                                                                                    pasta water

1 cup half and half                                                                          Salt (to taste)

 

Directions:

Note: if using sun-dried tomatoes in oil (in a jar), make sure to drain sun-dried tomatoes from oil, before using them. Reserve 2 tbsp. of this drained oil for sautéing as described below:

In a large pan, on high heat, sauté garlic and sun-dried tomatoes (drained from oil) in 2 tbsp. of oil (reserved from the sun-dried tomatoes jar) for 1 minute until garlic is fragrant. Remove sun-dried tomatoes from the pan, leaving the oil, and add chicken tenders, salted and lightly covered in paprika (for color) and cook on high for 1 minute on each side. Remove from heat.

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve some cooked pasta water. Drain and rinse the pasta with cold water (to stop cooking).

Slice sun-dried tomatoes into smaller bits and add them back to the skillet with chicken. Add half and half and cheese to the skillet, too, to bring to a gentle boil. Immediately reduce to simmer and cook, constantly stirring, until all cheese melts and creamy sauce forms. If the sauce is too think – don’t worry – you’ll be adding some cooked pasta water soon. Add cooked pasta to the skillet with the creamy sauce, and stir to combine. Add 1 tbsp. of basil, and at least ¼ tsp. of red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Add about ½ cup reserved cooked pasta water because the creamy sauce will be too thick – don’t worry – you’ll be adding some cooked pasta water soon. Add cooked pasta to the skillet with the creamy sauce, and stir to combine. Add 1 tsp. of basil, and at least ¼ tsp. of red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.

Add about ½ cup reserved cooked pasta water because the creamy sauce will be too thick (do not add all water at once – you might need less or more of it). This will water down the thickness of the cheese sauce and make it creamier. Immediately, season the pasta with salt and more red pepper flakes, to taste, if needed. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes for flavors to combine.

Note: Make sure to salt the dish just enough to bring out of the flavors of basil and sun-dried tomatoes.

 

This recipe is absolutely delicious. I made it a couple of nights ago and even my boyfriend, who absolutely hates tomatoes, loved it. The sun-dried tomatoes don’t actually taste like a fresh tomato. Instead, it has a subtle taste that is kind of smokey. Paired with the chicken, it’s the perfect match.

Something that I’m going to try next time: Instead of cooking the chicken the way the recipe asks, I’m actually going to buy an already cooked rotisserie chicken. I love the way they are cooked and I think it would work perfectly with this. I’ll just add the already cooked chicken to the pan with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and oil and start from there.

 

 

Recipe and pictures found on Julia’s Album

 

Homemade Mac and Cheese

Serves approx. 6-8 as main dish or 10-12 as a side

 

Ingredients:

1 lb. pasta (cavatappi)                                                    6 cup shredded sharp or white cheddar

1 stick butter                                                                   1 tbsp. salt

½ cup flour                                                                     1 tbsp. pepper

4 cups milk                                                                     2 tbsp. butter

½ cup panko bread crumbs

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Boil the pasta in water salted with a tsp. of salt.

While the pasta is cooking, melt 1 stick of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in ½ cup flour and whisk together for 2-3 minutes to let it cook.

Add in 1 tbsp. salt and 1 tbsp. Slowly add in the 4 cups of milk, whisking as you go until smooth. Keep whisking until the sauce comes to a simmer and thickens considerably. Remove from heat.

Grease a 9×13 dish with butter and add the cooked pasta to the dish.

Over the top of the pasta, sprinkle with the cheese. Pour the cream sauce over the top of the cheese and pasta and let it sit a couple of minutes to begin to melt the cheese.

Then, stir the cream sauce, cheese, and pasta together.

Topping

In a small skillet, melt 2 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add in 1/5 cup panko bread crumbs. Stir constantly until golden brown. Sprinkle over the pasta and cheese.

Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Quote

When you love someone… truly love them, friend or lover, you lay your heart open to them. You give them a part of yourself that you give to no one else, and you let them inside a part of you that only they can hurt—you literally hand them the razor with a map of where to cut deepwater and most painfully on your heart and soul. And when they do strike, it’s crippling—like having your heart carved out. It leaves you naked and exposed, wondering what you did to make them want to hurt you so badly when all you did was love them. What is so wrong with you that no one can keep faith with you? That no one can love you? To have it happen once is bad enough… but to have it repeated? Who in their right mind would not be terrified of that?

-Sherrilyn Kenyon, Devil May Cry

Reflections

So this past week has sucked. I’ve gotten behind on my readings for my classes, I’ve only posted twice for here, and I’ve just been feeling…. blah.

It’s a low. I know what the signs are and I know how they make me feel. I don’t feel motivated, I eat horribly, which makes the low even worse, the ‘voices’ make it hard to get out of bed in the morning, and it spirals down from there.

This has been my life since I was 13 years old. I know (sort of) how to deal with it. It’s just the motivation of actually doing it.

Anyways, this week sucked. But I’m back to my fitness classes this week, trying to fix my mind, and I promise I’ll start posting/commenting more regularly. I have some recipes lined up to post once a day, at least.

 

Posts written since last reflection: Assignment; Article Analysis, Pasta Salad; Family Recipe