How Musical Theatre Shaped Who I Am

I started theatre at the age of nine and continued with it until the age of 18. I always felt happiest up on stage in front of an audience. Theatre forced me to become comfortable in front of large amounts of people very early on which boosted my confidence more than I ever knew.

I never really had dreams of being on Broadway, my goal for each show was to do my personal best. I love going back and watching old DVD’s because my stage presence gets significantly better every show. Theatre is an amazing way to boost self confidence because the audience gives so much reassurance about what you are doing. It is not easy as a nine-year-old to remember choreography, song lyrics, and lines, but I have seen so many young kids perfect their performance in the end. It’s impossible to tell what you’re capable of before your first performance but once you leave it all on the stage you feel an instant wave of relief and accomplishment.

The Spring after my freshman year of high school I was nominated for EMACT’S (Eastern Massachusetts Association of Community Theatres) Best Young Actress award which was a high point of my theatre career. It was for my role as the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. The nomination came as quite a surprise to me and I felt elated to attend the award gala and see many other talented actors. 13-year-old Hannah did not exactly feel at place in a room surrounded by much older actors  who had been performing longer than I had been alive. Looking around me and realizing that I was being recognized side by side with so many other amazing people made me hold my head up a little higher and smile a little brighter. Although I did not win the award, being recognized for doing what you love is always an achievement in itself. The nomination showed me that what I was doing was meaningful not only to myself, but to others. I had always felt a little different being a theatre kid and never getting involved with sports so this source of validation made a big difference in my social development in high school.

Through the Easton Children’s Theatre I was able to perform for nine years as well as become an assistant director for about five years. I helped out with two musicals during the year and over the summer I was a counselor for a four week camp that resulted in a completed musical. This opportunity allowed me to choreograph many shows and help young actors between the ages of 9 and 15 sharpen their acting skills and gain confidence on stage. It is amazing how much a young actor can change between their audition and opening night. The amount of joy I feel watching a completed show has brought me to tears multiple times because I feel so much pride in the actors. I wouldn’t trade my theatre experience for anything in the world and I would do anything to relive every show I directed one more time.

Flash forward to my senior year of high school, I knew that my theatre career was coming to a close. My major was declared at Emerson and I wasn’t too sad about my final curtain call at my high school musical. Theatre was the right choice for me throughout high school and I did not regret any of the late night choreography sessions or stressful dress rehearsals. To all of the theatre kids out there, you are making the best decision by sticking with it and performing on a stage. You will carry the skills and confidence with you for the rest of your life and it will bring you many, many opportunities (theatre related or not) in the future.

Because of musical theatre, I am now able to speak in front of crowds, hold myself with poise, and watch young actors grow  with my guidance. When I start to reminisce on my theatre experience I miss it more and more. There is absolutely nothing else like live theatre which makes the feeling irreplaceable in my heart. I hope one day I will step foot on a stage because I really do still hear it calling my name.

Being Present

 

Credit: Pinterest

Last week I came across the above quote and it really spoke to me. Being physically present and being mentally present have two completely different definitions. Lately I have been feeling the absence of deep, meaningful conversations in my life and I yearn for that void to be filled.

I cannot remember the last time a phone wasn’t pulled out at some point during a conversation. When hanging out with a group of friends all it takes is one person to pick up their phone and everyone feels obligated to check theirs too. We have grown accustomed to the presence of technology and it is getting harder and harder to be fully present in day to day life. The truth about technology is saddening because no one my age knows how to entertain themselves without a screen. Someone whip out Yahtzee or Pictionary, PLEASE.

It may seem ridiculous to live without technology but pulling back from constant screen use is a great way to slow down your brain. Lock your phone and instead pass some time by reading, journaling or drawing…unleash the creativity! Once enough time is focused in a more constructive place than the depths of someone’s Instagram page a feeling of relaxation arises. There will always be time to be engrossed in social media but I hope more than anything that young people can learn to stay present in the more simple joys of life.

When having a conversation, I try to remind myself to continuously look someone in the eye and ask questions about what they are saying. That is the best way to show your true interest in another person. It is just too easy to get lost behind a screen when the world is going by around us. We walk around engrossed in the latest Tasty video or Snapchat story, completely oblivious to the beauty passing by with every step.

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It may seem impossible to go a full day without your phone but the experience will allow you to see the world a little differently. You don’t need that perfectly staged Snapchat video or Instagram story to show that you are having fun with your friends. There is definitely pressure in our world today about posting constantly to ensure that your followers know you are maintaining an interesting life. Your friends that you are hanging out with already know how much fun you are. Pictures and videos are great, but soaking in the memories with your eyes and ears is more organic and fulfilling.

It is always great to snap some pics of a new place or some cool food, but save the editing and posting until after in order to enjoy the rest of the day. People always seemed surprised when I say I left my phone at home for the day or night; it’s like a security blanket that is thought to be a necessity when I can function just as well without it.

Right now you are looking at a screen, as are billions of people around the world. Try taking a breather from all the screens and pay attention to the beautiful details all around you because the world is a lot more interesting than the Instagram popular page.

I snapped this pic before embarking on a beautiful walk down the beach a few weeks ago. Left my phone in the car (:

 

The Appeal of Brunch

Clink. Sip. Slice. Munch. Laugh. Repeat.

Brunch has become a staple of our millennial lives. There is something so intriguingly special about a Sunday brunch with your friends. The table is always overflowing with mimosas, home fries, eggs three different ways and always at least one pancake. But, what is the appeal of brunch? Why have we placed it on a pedestal far above lunch and dinner?

Our generation is all about finding new and healthy ways to branch out from our parents. We are the kale-loving, SoulCycle-going, meme-watching generation. And our lifeblood is brunch. It provides a rich experience unlike any other; a time with friends when we can eat and drink to our fullest, without being judged for the time of day. Think about it; ordering multiple drinks at lunch is not exactly encouraged and dinner can end up being a more formal experience. At brunch, we can indulge in something out of the ordinary while still managing to meet our budgets. It’s a delightful way to order something that isn’t a classic dinner dish and to treat yourself. Especially in the late morning to early afternoon of a sunny weekend day.

And, if it isn’t obvious already, millennials are positively obsessed with photographing and sharing the exciting details of their day-to-day lives. The best part about brunch? It’s always aesthetically pleasing. Creamy Eggs Benedict on golden brown English muffins, fluffy Belgian waffles oozing with fresh fruit and maple syrup, colorful arrays of delicious Huevos Rancheros and, naturally, the never-ending flights of tropical mimosas and spicy Bloody Marys. As soon as the server arrives with the steaming, heaping plates, iPhones immediately emerge and the perfect, Instagram-worthy photo can be captured within seconds. After all, what good is a beautiful brunch if your friends can’t eye it on social media and be completely jealous?

Brunch fits the millennial lifestyle to a T. We are always hard-working fanatics during the week, juggling internships, classes, jobs and meetings. On the weekends, we like to treat ourselves to giant fishbowls, endless dancing, blistered feet and greasy pizza at 2 am. And brunch falls into this category perfectly; it allows us to still sleep in a little later on weekends, still get delicious breakfast foods and efficiently combine our breakfast and lunches into one filling, luxurious meal. And, of course, most of us arrive at our brunch dates relatively hungover. Well, no problems there! Brunch can accommodate even the most nauseous, aching people; coffee for those who need something strong, heavy dishes for those who need to fill their pained stomachs with plenty of carbs and even more refreshing drinks for those who aren’t quite ready to give up their alcohol intake for the weekend.

Since millennials fall into such a broad category when it comes to what we can and can’t afford, brunch is the perfect middle ground. For those of us college students who are broke beyond belief, we can alway manage to afford a couple eggs, home fries and toast for a reasonable couple of bucks. And for those of us older millennials with more successful incomes, there’s always an indulgent smoked salmon omelette, Nutella and strawberry crepe or eggs Florentine on which to splurge. It’s the perfect meal time to find something everyone likes and wants to immediately Snapchat to all their friends.

Clearly, the appeal we millennials have found in brunch is the aesthetic, diversity, and luxury in it. It’s a meal we have made our own, shifting it from a classic diner platter of pancakes and eggs to something for which one would wait two hours in line. We can’t deny the thrill it gives us to wake up at 10 am, dress up nicely, and be seated at a table at 11:30 with our best friends, snapping pictures of our strawberry mimosas and golden brown French toast. It’s alluring, tasteful, and as classy as we millennials can get.

Being a Second Generation WOC in America

“Where are you from?” 

“Born and raised in Shrewsbury, Mass.” 

“No, where are you really from?”

It is difficult being of Indian descent having grown up in the United States. It’s like being caught between two different worlds, forever being pulled and shoved back and forth between two nations. I’ve always felt like I was having an identity crisis: am I Indian or am I American? Can I be both when it feels like people always need me to just make a decision? It’s like the whole nature vs. nurture conversation we’ve all had at least once in a high school science class. Are we defined more by our genes and roots or by our environment and upbringing?

My parents grew up in India, raised in the colorful, vibrant culture of our homeland. They had an arranged marriage when my mother was 21 and my father was 28 and moved to America a few years later to start a new life. I always wonder what that must feel like: leaving behind everything and everyone you know, packing up your entire life, and moving to a foreign country with a person you just met. Terrifying, confusing, and… thrilling.

Both my sister and I were born in Framingham, Massachusetts. I have always felt like we were raised in different ways. When my sister was born, my parents were still very attached to their Indian culture. She grew up only speaking our native language Tamil and didn’t hear English until she started going to school. I think my parents felt that they hadn’t assimilated her into America properly. That was what it was always about for people moving from India to America; it was about assimilating into the new culture and fitting in, not bringing in a taste of an old culture to a new world. So, when I was born, things were different. I was raised on an eclectic mix of Tamil phrases and English sentences. I could’ve grown up to be fluently bilingual but my parents stressed English with me much more than they did Tamil. I’ve grown up understanding Tamil almost fluently, and being able to speak it pretty well, but viewing Tamil texts as meaningless, confusing symbols.

As I got older, into middle school, that’s when I started realizing I was inevitably “different.” I had skin as tan as roasted almonds, eyes darker than twilight and a head of black waves. I didn’t look like most of my friends, who were pale-skinned and blue-eyed. This is when I started recognizing the pressures of society to “choose” a side. And as most tweens and teens, I chose the side of fitting in with my friends. From late middle school to high school, I found myself doing as much as I could to dig out my Indian roots and conform to my American culture. I stopped watching Tamil movies and listening to Tamil music with my parents. I ate Indian food at home, but would never have done so in front of friends. I wore scandalous clothing, fought with my parents and spent as much time as I could with friends. I donned the reputation as “the whitest Indian girl” at school, and it filled me with immense pride. Finally, finally, I was cool and wasn’t known as just another Indian girl. I was special because I fit in with my white friends. I had chosen my side and that side was America.

It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized how wrong I was. Emerson has taught me so much about embracing your culture, your roots and who you truly are. I had never been in such a welcoming, diverse environment that celebrated each other’s differences. I had never been appreciated for being Indian by non-Indian friends. This is where I have finally embraced my title of a woman of color. And ever since coming to school here, I have made efforts to speak in Tamil more often with my parents, talk about my culture with friends and enjoy the rich traits and lifestyles of my homeland.

Being a woman of color in America is hard because your family is constantly reminding you to stay true to your roots, while your friends are reminding you that you are in a different world. As if being a woman isn’t already difficult in this world, being a woman of color means less opportunities, less rights, and being taken less seriously. It means picking and choosing which aspects of your life you want to remain true to which culture, and making sense of how your heritage and environment coincide and have worked together to create the individual you are. I know I would be a completely different person if I wasn’t raised embracing two different cultures, and for that, I am thankful. But, most of all, I am thankful to come from parents who have never once pushed me to do one thing or another, but have let me make mistakes, forget and remember what is important and finally understand who I am all by myself.

What Sophomore Year Has Taught Me

College is quite a wild ride. I never expected to learn, change, and grow as much as I did. Sometimes, I feel like a completely different person. Other times, I feel merely like a more mature version of my high school self. Regardless of the impact college has left on you thus far, it’s inevitable that its going to teach you a few important lessons: some in the classroom and some in the broader sense of life.

Friendships are hard to maintain, but so valuable.

What everyone always told me about college is true: you do meet people who completely change your life, for the better. One of the absolute best parts about Emerson for me so far is the opportunities I’ve gotten to befriend some extraordinary people. It’s so rare to meet people who make you feel loved, supported, and cherished, but that’s what Emerson has done for me. However, I’ve also learned that friendships are hard. It’s easy to call someone your friend when you cross paths with them every day during the semester and can easily meet up at the DH after class or run down two flights of stairs to their room in LB. But, as soon as it hits summer, it honestly gets so difficult to see a lot of those people you still call “friends.” When you have to really go out of your way to make plans and schedule times to meet up with someone off-campus, those friendships might face a four-month hiatus. It’s disappointing, but I think it really proves to you, deep down, who your best friends really are. They are the people who you genuinely want to see and with whom it’s never a hassle to make plans. They’re the gems that college has given you.

Never take family for granted.

Family can mean something different for everyone. It’s not just the conventional family that we all expect; families can come from friends and organizations, too. Regardless of who it is you call “family,” college has taught me that those are so rare and meaningful. Family is the people who you know will support and love you unconditionally. And, as a college student when life is turned upside down often, it’s nice to have something like that. As most other high school people at that time, I hated being at home during high school. I was constantly out of the house and rolling my eyes about my parents. Now, I often can’t wait to go home and just lay around the house with my parents and sister, reliving old memories and laughing about things only we’d understand. Having a constant in my life has been such a breath of fresh air in the swirling vortex that can be Emerson. I’ve come to appreciate my rich culture and the caring parents who raised me in it. I feel wiser, stronger, and more independent because of my family.

Putting yourself out there is everything.

My first semester of college was, to be brief, a tragic mess. I, someone who was a social butterfly my entire life, finally felt like my wings had been clipped off. Starting fresh in a completely different environment was a major stress on my life. I didn’t know how to make new best friends when I’d known my best friends from home since the sixth grade. It wasn’t like I was holed up in my room alone every night; I just only really spent time with my roommates and went home every other weekend. I owed that solitude to the fact that all I did was go to class and come back to my enclosed dorm. I wasn’t a part of any organizations and didn’t have any opportunities to make friends. That simple idea of not putting myself out there by joining any new organizations and clubs almost led me to transferring from Emerson. However, second semester rolled around, and I got accepted into Emerson Noteworthy, an a cappella group. Finally having a group of people outside of class to see regularly and be myself around changed everything for me. Because that’s all it took: having an outlet where I could do something I was passionate about and also have people with whom to share it. That slowly led me to opening myself up more. And here I am now, a member of 6 different organizations and thriving (in most ways).

Nothing is certain, and that’s something you just have to embrace.

It’s really terrifying looking into the future and having absolutely no idea what it holds. That future for most college students is in the post-grad life; for me, it also includes the next two years of my life at Emerson. Since coming here, I’ve changed my major, made and lost friends, and had so many of my perspectives on life questioned and completely flipped around. I thought that I was going to graduate with a degree in Journalism to go on and pursue a career at a news station as an anchor. Now, I’m working towards a degree in Marketing Communications, hoping to someday be on a marketing team for one of my favorite brands (maybe even a CMO someday, or at least that’s the ultimate dream). I’ve had some best friends come and go with semesters and others remain permanently rooted in my life. I came into college extremely skeptical and uninterested in Fraternity and Sorority Life, and I am now a proud member of Zeta Phi Eta. It’s truly impossible to predict your every move in college. As you shift and grow, your likes, dislikes, beliefs, and opinions will shift and grow, too. I used to be the kind of person who needed to know exactly what was happening, when it was happening, and where it was happening. While I’m still like that at times, I’m learning to recognize that there are just some things that cannot be controlled. And while it can be disappointing and heartbreaking to lose people who meant the world to you once and have your entire future plans halted and turned on their heads, it’s also exciting. It’s thrilling that life can take so many twists and turns and that every decision can lead to a million wonderful things you never expected. Life is so moldable, and that’s quite beautiful (especially for an arts student).

So, regardless of if you absolutely love college or if you’re dying to get that diploma, it’s obvious that where you go to college, the classes you take, and the people you meet can have a huge impact on your life. It has an eerie mystery to it, yet that mystery holds so many unseen opportunities. It teaches you to exemplify your strengths and improve your weaknesses, making you a stronger and wiser human being. In the end, college is a brief time in your life, but it’s a special time that can really influence your path in the future.

How to Keep in Touch with College Friends Over Break

The bonds you create when you share a bathroom with someone or many someones are powerful. You become so close with people so quickly that being ripped away from them at the beginning of summer break can feel like having a piece of your soul missing. Though it’s never the same, there are a lot of fun ways to keep in touch with all of your college friends over this long, hot dry spell.

Netflix and Skype

I don’t know about you, but for me one of the worst things about going home is that I have no one to binge watch with. I start watching shows with about 5 different people and then suddenly it all comes crashing to a halt when break starts. It’s too tragic to keep watching the show without each other, so you just wait until next semester when you’ve already forgotten all the characters. Well, there’s another way! You and your friends can make Skype dates to watch your shows together. This way you can experience the drama together rather than waiting to recap the show four months later. Or if Skyping while you watch the show is too inconvenient you can Skype afterwards, or text and/or Snapchat during.

Go on a Trip

If you have the means and the opportunity, a great way to ease the separation anxiety is to take a trip to visit each other. One great thing about going to college is you get to meet so many people from diverse backgrounds. What better way to get to know your friends better than going to see them in their hometown, or having them come visit you. You can even plan a grand tour with some of your friends and take a road trip to each person’s hometown. Now all your friends will know how good that local restaurant you’ve been talking about really is. Or if you don’t live far from each other or don’t want your college friends to collide with your hometown friends you could go on a road trip together. The summer is a great time for a weekend-long beach getaway!

Snapchat

Snapchat is a game changer when it comes to communicating long distance because it’s as convenient as texting and you still get to see each others’ faces. It can be really hard to communicate effectively without facial expressions, and Snapchat gives you the opportunity. Sometimes I just can’t convey how hard I’m judging my roommate with words! It can also be a fun game to see how long you can keep your fire going when you’re not around each other all the time.

Send Letters

There’s no question that social media has eased the pain of separation exponentially by making communication so much more convenient, but sometimes it’s worth it to return to the classics. Becoming pen pals with your college buddies can be a fun way to feel like you have an intimate connection with a person when they’re thousands of miles away. You can send each other postcards from your travels or just from your hometown. You could even send each other momentos like a flower from your backyard. I’m always up for the opportunity to pretend I’m from the 1800’s.

Try out a few of these tips, and by the time school rolls around, it will be like no time has passed at all. Your friendships will start right back up where they left off with minimal recovery time!

We’re All in This Together: TV Show Reunions

There’s a lot of emphasis placed on reunions. High school reunions happen as early as five years after graduation, families reunite if they all live in different places and don’t see each other as often, and there are even more informal reunions such as coffee with old friends when you’re all back in town. 

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of reunion shows commemorating various anniversaries or whatnot of TV shows. Full House recently debuted its spin-off series, Fuller House, Gilmore Girls is having a four-part revival miniseries on Netflix, the Friend’s cast reunited to commemorate the 1,000th episode that James Burrows directed in his career and the High School Musical cast reunited to celebrate their 10th anniversary.

Let’s reunite with these shows with a breakdown of each reunion.

Full House

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When I first heard about Fuller House, I was incredibly excited for it. I remember buying all the Full House DVDs and proudly lining them up on my shelf. I remember watching it before school because it was always on while I was eating breakfast. I didn’t watch it live because it was an older show, but I remember how sad I was when it ended.

Now the cast is back together in the same house but with different stories. While it’s going to be a little strange having the focus be on DJ, Stephanie, and Kimmy, I know that the show is still going to have the same family feel that made me fall in love with it in the first place. Fuller House will have Kimmy, DJ, and Stephanie living in the old house together to help out recently widowed DJ with her three sons. At first, when rumors were floating around about the show, I heard that most of the older cast members like John Stamos and Bob Saget weren’t going to make appearances, which of course made me a little upset because I felt like it wasn’t a reunion without them. I knew it was supposed to be a different storyline, but that didn’t mean I still wasn’t going to miss Uncle Jesse and Danny. But then I found out that they’re going to make brief appearances, and even Blake and Dylan Tuomy-Wilhoit, who haven’t acted since their days as Alex and Nicky, were going to make appearances. And even though it seems like Michelle won’t be making an appearance, they at least gave a nod to her in the trailer which made me incredibly happy.

I watched the pilot of Fuller House and plan on watching the rest while I still have time. I liked it a lot, though at times I thought it got a little reference heavy. It seemed like they were trying to throw as many references to the old show as possible by having each character say their catch phrase, have Steve come back and steal food, have the whole cast sing “Forever” and even go as far to have a side by side clip when they all sang the Flintstones theme song to calm down Tommy, DJ’s son. They put a clip on the left from season one when they did the same thing to calm down Michelle. The theme song started off with the old intro, and then preceded to go into a new version of the song sung by Carly Rae Jepsen with the old cast having their older pictures from the original intro included as well.

I thought the episode itself was funny, including a neurotic son of DJ who was very reminiscent of Danny, and multiple jokes about Donald Trump. I grew up watching this show and I’m excited to see what they do with it in the upcoming episodes.

Friends

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Friends was another reunion special I was incredibly excited about, until I found out that it wasn’t really a reunion special to commemorate Friends but to celebrate a director, and Matthew Perry wasn’t even going to be there. Since the announcement of Friends came out around the time of Fuller House I assumed we were going to get an actual episode of Friends, not just a reunion with one of the cast members missing as they say scripted things about a director no one at home watching actually knew. I guess “The One that Could Have Been,” the episode where we see what it would be like if the characters were older, was the only Friend’s reunion episode fans will actually get.

High School Musical

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I remember sitting in my basement when I was in Middle School, yelling out the lyrics to “We’re All in This Together” while trying to copy the moves that Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens were doing on the screen. My brother and I even dressed up as Sharpay and Ryan for Halloween when I was in seventh grade.

What struck me about what I saw from the High School Musical (HSM) reunion as compared to the Friends one is that the HSM cast (minus Zac Efron, unfortunately) seemed more concerned with their fans. They talked about how surreal it was to have fans come up to them saying that they had the courage to take up new interests or start singing because of the movies, and Corbin Bleu mentioned how a lot of fans said to him, “You were my childhood.” I fully realized how much of an impact HSM had on our generation when Corbin Bleu was on Dancing with the Stars, and a bunch of people on social media kept joking about how they thought he didn’t dance.

Gilmore Girls

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There’s going to be a four-part Gilmore Girls series revival on Netflix and I have heard that almost all of the major characters are signed to make appearances except for Melissa McCarthy. Also, Amy Sherman Palladio, who was the original writer, is going to come back to write the reunion specials. I am not as connected with Gilmore Girls as I am with the other shows, but it’s still exciting to hear news about its revival.

Whether you like these shows or not, it’s always exciting to see old characters come back with more stories and conflicts for us to follow along to. While this is just a small list of a few reunion shows I’ve heard about recently, I’ve heard rumors of other revivals as well. Maybe even if these shows aren’t your favorite, you’ll find a TV reunion of your own to attend one day.

How to Have a Vegetarian Thanksgiving

If you are a vegetarian or vegan, the holiday season can be uncomfortable in terms of food. You sit around the table with your family as they all stare at your plate trying to figure out what you will eat.

This time around, you can have the opportunity of showing your family and friends how delicious plant-based food can be.

These are some of the plates that I plan on cooking for my Thanksgiving dinner with friends.

Roasted Squash with Red Onion, Oregano and Mint

Tgiving issue: roasted squash, brussel sprout slaw

Easy and so delicious, this warm appetizer will be loved by everyone at the table. It’s as easy as baking the squash and spicing it up. Enjoy.

Recipe can be found here.

Zucchini and Caramelized Onion Quiche

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Delicious and filling. Works well as a side dish or even a main dish. This is the kind of dish where you can choose the vegetables you love the most. In my case, zucchini is the chosen one. I suggest squash, tomato or mushrooms. This is a yummy, easy and quick addition to the table.

Recipe can be found here.

Squash and Celeriac Quinoa Stuffing

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Give your classic Thanksgiving stuffing a twist.

Replace the bread with quinoa, and treat yourself to a healthy stuffing. This is a great vegan approach to the stuffing, where you replace classic ingredients like chicken broth and eggs for butternut squash and celery root. This is healthy, full of protein and the quinoa will give great texture to the dish.

Recipe can be found here.

Whipped Coco Cream Tart with Fresh Berries (Vegan)

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Delight yourself and your guests with this quick, easy tart. The berries are your choosing. This tart will look so gorgeous, you will be surprised!

Recipe can be found here.

Chocolate Pecan Pie (Vegan)

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Some delicious vegan chocolate pie to end the meal. This pie won’t take you longer than half an hour to make, and you will thank yourself you did.

Recipe can be found here.

Additional tips can be found on Food&Wine’s website.

Looking Back on Childhood Friends and Memories

There are hundreds of relationships that one will have during their lifetime. There is the childhood friend, the high school group, the best friend, the boyfriend and the family friends. Of course, there are plenty more, and each will have different and unique experiences and memories. There will be a ton of laughter, smiles, and secrets, but also tears, fights, and second guessing. It happens with everyone, slowly, but surely, and at different times of everyone’s life. Within each relationship that you had, have and will have, there are lessons that you learn. The lessons, in turn, will be established in future friendships that you will make.

When I was little, like many, I had a childhood best friend. We did so much together, which was less of our choosing and more because our moms were close friends. Either way, we wanted to have “play dates” and play imaginary games. Personally, I believe that having a childhood best friend is important. It could be a person, imaginary friend, or a loved pet. With any of these types, we learn to play, love, interact and learn from others. I can confidently say that my childhood best friend began to teach me all of these characteristics and everyday human capabilities that would later turn into major building blocks for other friendships.

There is always a specific memory that you can tag to a person. With this friend (you know who you are), we used to play on the wooden swing in her backyard. It was the type of the swing that had a plank of wood connected to rope, you know, the ones that swung really high with just one push. We used to take turns playing on that swing for hours, screaming and smiling all at once as we quickly got higher and higher off of the ground and closer to the shining sun. This was one of my favorite things to do when I was a kid, plainly because it was just so simple but so fun.

Unfortunately for me, I have always been scared of heights and also that feeling of dropping backwards without having control of it. Therefore, I would always have fun going up, but as soon as it hit the highest part of the swing and began to go back to the ground, I would panic. I thought that I was going to run into the wooden fence that shut my friend’s yard off from weeds and sharp bushes that lived in her neighbor’s. I would shut my eyes tight, and turtle my chin into my neck, ready for impact. But it would never happen. She would always catch the swing before it would hit the fence. I would open my eyes and find myself still intact.

As silly as this sounds, these simple playtimes at the swing helped me to begin building trust for people besides my family. The fact that I never crashed into the fence because of the true dedication of my friend (think about it, two small and young girls can’t stop a fast moving swing with someone equally as heavy on top of it that easily) helped me to open up to other people rather than hide from them.

Now, with an experience that brought me so much trust to instill in my everyday surroundings and the people within them, came others that brought me back down to earth. We all have experienced friends who talked about us behind our backs, lied to us, or smirked meanly at us when we made stupid comments. Maybe you didn’t know it, but someone did. Middle school and high school, for most of us, are the grounds for bringing down our trust levels. Especially for girls. We really are mean. I mean, guys are also pretty bad. Though, in middle school, they tend to separate themselves into two categories: loud and obnoxious or quiet and shy. Girls on the other hand, well, quiet or not, we are just plain mean. If not all of the time, then a pretty good amount of it. And half the time we don’t even intend to be.

For me, I was more quiet in middle school and stuck to a smaller group of friends. But was I a perfect friend who never talked about anyone behind their backs? Absolutely not. It’s in our nature, and at a time when everything both physically and mentally is changing for us, it helps something to feel normal. This by no means excuses bullying, however emphasizes that sad fact that we as girls do eventually thrive off of some sort of drama in order to distract ourselves from our own ongoing lives.

As I thread through thousands of unfinished journal pages covered with sloppy handwriting and unidentifiable drawings, I remember those times in my life while growing into that “awkward middle school phase.” I remember times that I was mean (like when I threw a dinner roll at my aunt to stop her from telling an embarrassing story) and then times that people were mean to me. (Remember FormSpring?) If I could relive those moments now, as a 20-year-old woman rather than a ten to 13-year-old girl, I would probably change a couple of things. One, I wouldn’t throw the dinner roll, I would most likely let my aunt continue her embarrassing story and secretly plan a less harmful revenge. Two, I would probably delete my FormSpring account and never look back at it again.

Both of these instances described above, (one being cute and nostalgic, and the other more of a laughing stock), are completely different. However, both of the relationships had in them helped me to become the person I am today. As you can tell through this article, I am a big believer of “everything happens for a reason.” But thinking back onto every relationship you have ever had (which is a lot), there is some sort of happy, sad or angry ending to it that makes you more wary or trusting about others around you. If all of the relationships that we had in our lives were happy and had positive outcomes, no fights or crying, then we would never expect anything bad of anyone. We would be naive and a serious target for anything and everything horrible and evil.

Even through intimate relationships we learn. If I acted shy and uncomfortable around my current boyfriend like I did with my first boyfriend, then our relationship would not be going very far (and would possibly already be over.) If someone had never made fun of me, then I never would have built a thicker skin (and a wildly large determination to do everything to prove them wrong.) And even as I am presented with similar relationships that I dealt with in the past, I realize that it is another chance to deal with them in a better and more responsible way than how I did before.

As awkward as our memories of the past may be, they can not be rewritten. And honestly, why would you ever want to?

Homecoming

Although I recognize that “home” may not always be the place where people feel the most welcome, it certainly hasn’t been that way for me. There is always something special about going back home after being away for a long time.

First, there’s the food. For the most part, it’s good. It has taste, substance and doesn’t instantly send you running to the bathroom. Most of the time, even if it isn’t necessarily good, it’s familiar and it’s something you’ve grown up with your whole life, which is a feeling that always makes me smile.

Then, there’s the comfort of being somewhere that you know like the back of your hand. You can stumble out of bed in the morning and make your way to the bathroom without even fully opening your eyes. You can sink your into the familiar spots of the pink carpet that you picked out when you were five and the horse posters on the wall offer a bit of comfort that the Fight Club posters in your dorm room never quite will.

And of course, there’s the people. You may not always get along with your family and your friends from home may be far from perfect, but there is usually someone that you’ve been dying to see. Personally, I find myself constantly surprised by the people I end up missing after being away from home for a while. Sometimes, you end up missing the weirdo kid you’ve known since first grade who actually makes you laugh or maybe it’s your best friend’s ex who was kind of a jerk but now is sort of getting his act together.

There’s something about home, something so comfortable, that comes back to you in unexpected ways. And of course, if all else fails, at least there’s the food.