Apps For Your Library Card

I absolutely love to read and would spend my life doing it if I could somehow support myself that way. Since reading books all day can get quite expensive I have found two apps that have made it much easier to do what I love and not go broke. I will admit that I still have a tendency to buy books, but the library has always been a great resource when my broke college student wallet needs to prioritize food. There are quite a few different apps out there for accessing your library books. I primarily use two of the ones my library does licenses through. This is especially great for those of you that can’t always get to the library or are away at school.

Overdrive

I have been using Overdrive for quite a few years now and it has definitely gotten better over time. I love this app, because I can put in my library card number and moments later have access to thousands of books to borrow. There is still the concept of putting books on hold and getting them for 14 to 21 days, but it is far cheaper than buying the books or paying for a subscription service that likely doesn’t have the books you want to read. The app also has audiobooks that you can borrow and the best part is that it only uses wi-fi during the initial download. I keep the app on my phone for listening to books while on the bus or metro. In the past month I’ve listened to four audiobooks and the best part is that they were FREE!

Cloud Library

Previously named 3M Cloud this one is a bit less popular, but still used by my library for digital copies.  I really like the format of this app and it seems like I can usually borrow the books right away. This one does not have audiobooks, but still contains a vast amount of books. If you don’t manage to finish a book in the days allotted to you it will save your spot for the next time you borrow it.

I also like that both apps download the books or audiobooks to your device to be used offline. This is great for the metro where there is no service and friendly towards my phone bill. Also, it automatically returns the book for you, which is a bonus for those of us that forget to get a book back and rack up late fees. If you’re a huge reader or looking for recommendations feel free to friend me on Goodreads!

What apps do you use to read your books or do you like it old school with an actual book?

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Making Muddy Buddies

There are always those recipes that friends grew up eating regularly and stare at you like you’re from Mars if you haven’t heard of. This occurred when I was with my boyfriend’s family and his mom said she had made Muddy Buddies. Everyone was ecstatic and I had to ask him what it was. He kindly explained and then passed me a bowl. I fell in love and quickly asked for the recipe. My boyfriend was pretty happy the first time I tried this at college and now whenever he needs a pick me up I grab the ingredients from the store and surprise him with a batch.

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The back of the Chex cereal box (we opt for rice chex, but you can use any) has the instructions and ingredients for this treat. On the box it gave instructions to use the microwave, but I knew my boyfriend’s mom used the stove so I  texted her to find out how she did it. Now if you don’t have access to a stove top the microwave way works perfectly fine and if you’re younger it is a better bet to go with that method. I made a few alterations to the recipe based off of his mom’s words of wisdom and I will share them with you below.

Microwave Option: If you choose to follow the instructions on the back of the box and use the microwave you will still alter the last step of adding powdered sugar. I grabbed TWO one gallon ziploc bags and put ONE cup of powdered sugar in each. I split the fully mixed chex between the two bags and after making sure they were fully sealed, with air to move, I shook them. Then I left the mixture in the bags and placed them in the fridge to cool for about 40 minutes to an hour. I prefer leaving them in the bags because it is less messy and is easy packaging to go back to during the week.

Stove Top Option: I tried to find the instructions on the Chex website, but it looks like they no longer have this option posted, so I am going to pull from what I did today and the old instructions my boyfriend’s mom sent me.

Ingredients:

  • 9 cups Rice Chex or Corn Chex
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips*
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

*I am lactose intolerant and realized that these two items could be substituted to make this lactose free. I used I Can’t Believe Its Not Butter instead of regular and later realized I could have substituted dark chocolate for the semisweet. If you try the dark chocolate you may need to add more peanut butter to counteract the bitterness, but I would taste test as you cook.

Things you will need:

  • 2 One Gallon Ziploc bags
  • 1 large bowl
  • 1 large pot (that can fit 9 cups of Chex)
  • 1 spoon
  • 1 spatula
  • Measuring Cups

Instructions:

  1. Pull out all of the ingredients you will need. The first step involves prepping your ingredients once the chocolate mixture is ready. Measure out the 9 cups of Chex into your large bowl and place on the side. Next take your gallon Ziplock bags and measure in a cup of powdered sugar into each and seal.
  2. Now it is time to measure out your mixture. The 1/4 cup of butter, 1/2 cup peanut butter, and 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips can all be placed in the pot on the stove. The temperature can be at low if you are nervous about burning the chocolate or move it to about half-way between low and medium heat. I used a wooden spoon to stir the mixture together and stood over the pot to ensure it didn’t burn. Once all the chocolate chips had melted and it was completed mixed I took it off heat and added the 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
  3. The mixture is ready and you can poor it over your Chex in the bowl OR slowly mix in the Chex to your already set up pot. (Hint: I would put it all in the pot) For the mixing step I switched to a spatula so that I wasn’t crushing the Chex while mixing it. Continue mixing the cereal until they are entirely coated. Sometimes there can be quite a bit collected at the bottom so try rotating from bottom to top to ensure an even coating.
  4. Once the cereal is coated it is now time to place them in the prepped gallon bags. I measured about half of the mix into each bag and then tightly sealed it with air still in it. Then I shook the bags and roll them around in my hands until it looked like the powdered sugar had coated the pieces.
  5. While it would be really awesome if you could just eat them it is now time for them to cool. Leave the mixture in the bag and place it in the fridge for about 40 minutes to an hour. After that they are ready to eat!

According to Pinterest there are tons of variations people have tried utilizing chex and an array of additions. I definitely want to give some of these a shot. I have tried adding pretzels to this and enjoyed it, but my ratio was pretty off. I recommend crushing the pretzels into smaller pieces.

What foods did you grow up with in your family that your friends don’t seem to know? Comment below with recipes and I will try and make them.

First Day of Fall

My summer was pretty amazing and I managed to complete most of my bucket list. To continue with that I have carried over a few I can still do in the fall and added some specific for the season. I will admit that I still did quite of show binging on my couch, but I made time for fun as well. Quick Review:

  • Trip to Eastern Shore
  • Going for a hike
  • Water tubing with friends
  • Visit Harry Potter World at the Universal Studios of Hollywood
  • Exercise 3 times a week
  • Trip to Virginia Beach
  • Read a decent chunk of my to be read list
  • S’mores!!!
  • Try a new recipe each week
  • July 4th BBQ
  • Finally ride a rollercoaster  (screamed the WHOLE time)

I traveled quite a bit this summer and while I did not cross off everything a few extra things I did included trying new restaurants while visiting Redondo Beach (fell hardcore in love with Pinkberry), mini-golfing at Virginia Beach, trip to Maryland Zoo, and fun couple date nights with friends.

For the fall I am constrained by school and work, but would still like to make time for fun and travel. I recommend taking advantage of events in your area. Look for a Facebook or community page where events are posted. Also, check local farms to see if they’ll be doing events for the fall season. Hopefully, I can still accomplish quite a bit during this busy semester!

  • Try a new recipe each week (send me some!)
  • Exercise 3 times a week
  • Day trip to Annapolis
  • Hike the Billy Goat Trail
  • Pick apples
  • Carve Pumpkins
  • Visit family in Connecticut (also apple cider donuts)
  • Mini-Thanksgiving for friends
  • Indoor Glow in the Dark Mini Golf
  • Backyard campfire and s’mores
  • Go to a comedy show

What are you hoping to accomplish this fall? Any recommendations for DC area fun?

Wonder Woman Review

Wonder Woman was an amazing movie and I have been waiting to post a review since I saw it on opening day. It is now out on DVD and streaming, so I feel comfortable posting about it. I had not seen the original Wonder Woman movie to compare this to. Also, I did not see Batman vs. Superman, so this was my first time seeing Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. If you have not seen it yet STOP READING and come back after! The rest of the post does contain spoilers.

I picked up a Wonder Woman toy for Molly at PetSmart this summer and she absolutely loved it. Sadly, the toy is now missing a face (Molly is pretty adamant about ripping out squeakers). Anyway, on to the movie review!

I was not sure what to expect going into this movie, partially because I had no frame of reference for a Wonder Woman movie and was not 100% on her story line. Also, going to admit we are more of a Marvel household. However, this movie blew it out of the water for a superhero movie and especially a female superhero movie. There were quite a few things I loved about Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Wonder Woman, but also the structure and perception given in the movie. It did a wonderful job of focusing on her passion and goals. A few things:

  • I really enjoyed the time they paid to her backstory on the island. I am one of those annoying people that always wants to know a characters history and usually pester my boyfriend for the information. Lucky for him this movie did not require that.
  • The humor thrown in at little movies added great depth to both the characters and story line. Favorite was when Etta is explaining her job and Diana tells her that is considered slavery where she comes from. Also, just Diana trying to take her sword and shield around the city caused me to giggle.
  • The lack of overall sexualization was done wonderfully. I was so happy that there was obviously hints to it, as there is in everyday life, but it was done tastefully.
  • I totally saw the Ares thing coming. My boyfriend and I were both guessing at who Ares was and I guessed correctly. I loved the reveal and the following fight that ensued.
  • I cried like a baby when he went off in that plane. I was doing well until she starts to process what he was saying to her and then the tears started flowing.
  • Honestly, I walked out of the theater and immediately started texting people to go see it. It was everything I could have hoped it to be and am so excited for the next one.

What did you think of the movie? Any other movies you think I should see?

First Day of Summer

Summer is officially upon us and the heat is not holding back. Maryland has a lovely climate that ranges from sweater weather to dripping with sweat within a weak. However, living in Maryland also means getting to eat blue crabs coated in old bay all summer long. This summer I am hoping to venture out of my comfort zone, aka couch and binging shows, to try new adventures.

St. Michaels Crabs

When my boyfriend and I first met we made a list of all the things we would like to do as we were becoming friends. A few things we never managed to do have made their way on to a short bucket list of things I would like to accomplish over the next few months before school starts back up again.

  • Trip to Eastern Shore
  • Going for a hike
  • Water tubing with friends
  • Visit Harry Potter World at the Universal Studios of Hollywood
  • Exercise 3 times a week
  • Trip to Virginia Beach
  • Read a decent chunk of my to be read list
  • S’mores!!!
  • Try a new recipe each week
  • July 4th BBQ
  • Finally ride a rollercoaster

We shall see how this goes, but hopefully well so that I can share these experiences.

Best,

Shannon

 

Beauty and the Beast

If you sang the title in your head then we’re off to a great start. Beauty and the Beast was one of my favorites growing up and Belle was absolutely my favorite princess. She was also a book nerd and then to top it all off they cast EMMA WATSON to play her! I mean c’mon what could be better then the actress that played Hermione and showed girls everywhere you could be strong, smart, and beautiful. Now that the DVD is out it seems safe to assume most have seen it, but just in case below this is spoilers.

Beauty and the Beast

I will admit that I wasn’t sure what to expect from this movie. I can’t remember the last time I watched the animated version and I loved the live action Cinderella they did. Maleficent was also done beautifully. I had three favorite parts to the movie:

  1. Emma Watson: Her voice was gorgeous and the changes she brought to the character were subtle but appropriate for Belle’s character.
  2. Beast (Dan Stevens) singing Evermore: I will admit that I cried during this scene. His voice was gorgeous and the imagery as he sang was powerful.
  3. Ballroom Dance: Both of the dances were beautiful, but hearing them sing and go into the ballroom in her gorgeous yellow dress I gasped. Cinderella’s dress was breathtaking and they definitely did Belle’s justice. Also, Cinderella’s wedding dress at the end of the movie was breath taking and when Belle stepped out for the second ballroom scene I was in love with the flower detail on her dress.

What was your favorite part of the Beauty and the Beast movie?

Best,

Shannon

 

Last Minute Father’s Day Gifts

Buying gifts for guys is way harder than it should be. However, knowing them well can give you a few niche categories to buy from. Whether its buying birthday presents, or in this case a Father’s Day present, the men in my life would likely appreciate a gift found on many cultivated lists, but would prefer something else. Instead I thought back to his favorite things and activities and knew I could find a better gift that way. As a kid I always opted for something handmade or socks, since that was all he asked for. Recently, I have been opting to purchase him a hat from somewhere a visit or to represent my university. Here are my tips and tricks to buying a gift for any man in your life.

Orioles Game

Favorite Hobby

What is his favorite hobby? This one is easy, because there is always something they could want for their hobby. My Dad loves to cook or golf, which means I opt for a new kitchen tool or an addition to his golf bag. My Step-Dad really likes to read and while we have tons of books he still wants more so a gift card or a book are the perfect gift for him. My boyfriend plays a card game called Magic The Gathering, so I’m able to buy him packs of the cards for a present. His dad plays with him, but this year we opted to help him rebuild and revamp his garden in the backyard. These gifts are good if you want to give them something to enjoy by themselves. However, if you want to make it something for you two to enjoy together it is simple to alter them. I bought myself a deck of MTG cards once and played with my boyfriend as a present, I went out to a driving range with my dad, and I got a book for my step-dad and I to both read.

Favorite Entertainment

Entertainment is a good one, because it is something to enjoy as a group, just the two of you, or by themselves. This year my boyfriend and his brother took their dad to an Orioles game, because they love baseball and they were playing the Twins – first game he ever took them to see was Orioles vs. Twins. Sporting events are a solid choice, however if that isn’t their favorite form of entertainment there are some other options. Grab their favorite movie and make dinner in or head out to a restaurant and a movie as a nice night out. Maybe they prefer playing games (video or board), if so pick up a new game and work your way through it together or ask him to teach you how to play. This year a few things I considered were putt putt, bowling, or a trampoline park.

Life Appropriate

Where are they at in their life? Often times you see present lists based on the age someone is, but the point in life they are at is the best indicator for what to buy. Sometimes people need things to relax rather than to be professional or vice versa. Knowing what is going on in the life of the person you are buying for is key to getting a good gift. My dad just got a new apartment, so home goods would be a great gift. Something simple, such as spending time together, can be exactly what a person needs.

Also another tip is to get one bigger present and then wrap smaller presents that contain their favorite candy, food, cheep movie, game, etc. The best thing to do is give yourself a budget and act like your building a gift basket. How can you best capture their favorite things in one basket?

Have a wonderful Father’s Day!

Best,

Shannon

Your Best Paper

As everyone comes to the end of their semester some of us are facing a variety of finals to test our knowledge from the semester, whether it be a test, paper, or final project. To me papers are the hardest part of college not just because they’re frustrating to write, but also because every professor grades differently. Today I am providing my tips on how I have mastered writing my papers, as well as adaptations for each set of rubric requirements.

Writing Your BEST Paper

Start Early
Depending on the extent of the paper you will determine how long you need to complete the paper. As soon as I get assigned a paper I pull out the rubric and make a few notes when they discuss it either on syllabus day or during lecture. While I may not start the paper that day I also put down my first idea for the paper topic before I forget it. I usually give myself a week for each paper and about 2-3 weeks for a research paper (depending on the extent of research needed).

Outline
Everything I do involves an outline, but for papers they are crucial. As you collect information from the book, lecture, or the internet I add it to my main points on the outline as I work. This helps immensely when you go to form these facts and ideas into actual paragraphs for the paper. Personally, I keep my outline as questions with bullets or main points with short sentences to get the most information into the outline without actually writing too much.

Office Hours
If there isn’t an opportunity to ask questions about the paper in class or if you have extra ones I always take advantage of office hours with my professor or teaching assistant. Usually my outline makes its way to these appointments for review and to ensure I am understanding the paper prompt correctly. This is extremely beneficial after reading through their specific rubric and making sure you are meeting their grading requirements and main points when writing.

Rough Draft
Sitting down to actually write the paper can be hard, but your outline has done most of the work for you. The major point now is just turning it into eloquent sentences based on your bullet points. If you are trying to reach a page limit do not opt for inserting extra fluff. Look back at your outline and see if there were points you left out when writing or further elaboration of an aspect that could be provided to the reader for better understanding. I often wind up adding more to my introduction later based on everything I wound up writing.

Peer Review
I always have my boyfriend or a friend read my paper before I turn it in. Every time they find a typo or a grammatical error that I was self correcting as I read. It can also be helpful when writing persuasive papers to see if it actually persuades them or a research paper to see if they learned more.

Submit
After all of those steps I make my final edits and check with the syllabus to ensure all of the formatting is correct (cover page, font style, page numbers). Finally I submit it on our university’s online education platform or print and staple it for class. *When printing from a google doc the formatting can change so be sure to check your printed out version before submitting.

What are your tips for writing a paper?

I’m Feeling 22!

I’ve known in the back of my mind that my birthday was coming, but for some reason I wasn’t getting excited or making plans. This may have to do with it being a very stressful semester and having a packed week with my birthday being just one more thing I have to do. It can stink to have your birthday during the week. I had a paper due, a class debate, two 2.5 hour classes, an hour meeting between, and was supposed to be attending a two hour event after all of that. I started to stress about my birthday and think I was going to get stuck alone running between a million things. So I said no to what I could and made plans to head home to spend the night with family and friends for dinner. Last year I sucked it up and sat through class on my 21st birthday and decided this year I wasn’t going to miss out again.


School is important, but I only get to turn 22 once and want to appreciate it. Making that decision also led me to plan trips for the summer. I have been so focused on school and work that I have been forgetting to live my life. You always hear elders say that you only get to be young once and I want to make sure I can look back and know that I appreciated the years when I could. As a result I have made a bucket list for my twenty second year of life!

  1. Take a trip to the beach with family
  2. Visit my best friend in Los Angeles
  3. Visit my best friend in Nashville
  4. Go to Disneyland or world (I’ve never been to either)
  5. Go to Universal for Harry Potter
  6. Work on the book I’ve been writing in my head
  7. Volunteer with a local charity
  8. Live a healthier lifestyle (diet, sleep, and exercise)
  9. Take advantage of moments with others
  10. Get outside more with my puppy

When my boyfriend and I first met we made a big bucket list of all the things we were going to do. As we started checking them off the list we also started dating and more things got added. I stumbled upon it the other day and saw there were a few things we never managed to cross off that I might tackle this year.

What are you hoping to accomplish this year? Any suggestions for my list?

5 Facts About the Blogger

The thing I most dreaded at the beginning of each semester is the awkward ice breakers that professors come up with. As a teaching assistant I never made my students do it and just let them be social on their own terms. However, I can see why they do it (most of my students preferred not to talk) and so here are five facts about me to act as an ice breaker for the beginning of this blog.

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  1. I attended the University of Maryland for my Bachelor’s degree in geography and am currently working on my Master’s in international development policy with a focus in non-profit management and leadership.
  2. I have a love for turtles, which can be represented by the unhealthy amount of turtle knick knacks in my apartment. Also, it helps that my school’s mascot is a diamondback terrapin.
  3. Currently living in the D.C. area and am from Maryland. I’ve lived in Maryland for most of my life and as such have a healthy obsession with our flag.
  4. Reading is my favorite hobby and you can almost always find me with a book. I will admit to getting sucked into books and forgetting the world exists until I reach the final page.
  5. I’m curious what the world has to offer us and plan to share what I find right here.

In my junior level english class our professor had us sit in a semi-circle and the first person said their name, major, and favorite hobby and then the next person had to say everyone before them…I was second to last.

Whats the worst ice breaker you’ve ever had to do? Do you have a favorite?