2014

Holiday Gift Ideas

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The holiday season is upon us and if you’re anything like me, you probably haven’t finished (or even started) your holiday shopping yet. It can be extremely difficult and stressful to think of good gift ideas, so here are a few ideas to help you if you’re stuck!

  1. Cookie Baskets

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 If you have someone on your list that you just can’t figure out what to get or if you’re low on cash, this is something that will please just about anyone. Bake a batch of homemade cookies and put them in a festive basket, box, or bag. You can make whatever kind of cookies you want, so think about what you think they’ll like best and go for it!

  1. Restaurant Gift Cards

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 Pick up a gift card from your sibling’s/friend’s/family member’s favorite restaurant. Sometimes practical is best and getting someone a gift card to a restaurant you know they love and go to a lot guarantees they’ll get good use out of your gift!

  1. Movie Night Kit

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 For this one, you’ll need a DVD (any movie you know they don’t own, but would probably enjoy will work), the receiver’s favorite movie theater candy, popcorn (you can just throw in some packages of un-popped microwave popcorn), and a basket, gift box, or gift bag. Just put it all together and give the gift of a great stay-in movie night!

  1. Travel Essentials Basket

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 Have someone on your list that loves to travel or has a long plane ride coming up? Pick up a neck pillow, some cozy socks, some of their favorite snacks, some hand sanitizer, a package of gum, and anything else that you think will make for an optimal travel experience. Toss it all in a gift basket and you’re good to go!

No Plans? No Problem!

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no plans

Internship, travel and plans-less this winter break? Here are some ideas to help you make the most out of your vacation (in a not-binging-Netflix-the-WHOLE-time sort of way!):

Look for summer internships!Or study abroad programs or jobs.
Some applications are just opening up over winter break, so getting a head start on your search now might put you ahead of the game.

Clean up your resume!
This is a project that can take an hour or 4 days. Making your resume stand out (without the pink paper and strawberry scent) can also put you ahead in an internship or job search.

Take a winter class!
Get ahead in your studies and you might be able to graduate early (read: save money).

Get in shape!
If you never have time to hit the gym during the semester, try getting in shape over the break and then trying to stick to your routine when you return to school.

Learn a new skill!
Whether it’s learning to cook, play guitar, ride a bike, computer code, rock climb or speak Spanish, you’ve got free time and skills to learn!

Roadtrip with friends!
Find friends who also have a week or weekend and head someplace new!

And when all else fails?
Binge Netflix!

White House Hosts Summit on College Affordability

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white house summit
Hundreds of college presidents from across the country joined President Obama, the First Lady, and Vice President Biden for the White House Summit to hear about new actions for students to prepare for college.

The White House hosted its second annual College Opportunity Day of Action, which focused on President Obama’s broadened agenda for higher education. The president plans to implement these steps:

1. Increasing Pell scholarships by $1,000 a year
2. Creating the American Opportunity Tax Credit, worth up to $10,000 over four years of college
3. Limiting student loan payments to 10 percent of income
4. Laying out an ambitious agenda to reduce college costs and promote innovation and competition

The president also explained the need for increased investments in America’s community colleges and simplifying the FAFSA to make it easier for potential and current college students to apply for financial aid.

For more information visit:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/01/16/fact-sheet-president-and-first-lady-s-call-action-college-opportunity

College Friends in the Post College World

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Attend any high school graduation ceremony across the country and you’re likely to observe the same scene; girls in tight embrace, the football team coming together for one last huddle, scores of students weeping. Instead of a scene of jubilation, many of these rituals resemble a wake as people realize that this is the death of many of their friendships. There may be a few best friends that attend the same university or a handful of delusional couples that swear their high school relationships can survive a freshman year of new guys and winking sorority girls, but most accept the reality that they will grow up and thus, grow apart.

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Though we may have a better hold on our emotions in our early twenties, the scenario remains the same. Post collegiate commencement, we will continue to grow. While the leap from high school to college mainly meant being in new surroundings, the growth that transpires after college graduation takes us somewhere much larger; the real world. Once in that real world, we migrate to many different places.

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Take for example, the case of my undergrad best friend and myself. Once outside the halls of higher education, we grew in two opposite directions. While I got married to a southern belle, sired a future sorority president and eased into domestic life at 31, she maintained the single persona, moving out of our home city and remaining a mainstay at happy hours and ladies nights any day of the week. Both lifestyles are suitable for each of us as there is no handbook on how a thirty year old is supposed to act, however the stumbling block appears when we talk on the phone. While I’m not really interested in “Oh my God, two of my exes were in the same bar at the same time last night and last night was Monday”, I’m sure she is less than excited by “I’m up to my arms in baby poop and statistics homework.” Things become even more convoluted when we are in person, as the idea of a fun night for one of us is to storm the college bar for $5 pitchers and cheese fries while the other would rather be tucked away in an art gallery for a local artist’s opening. I’ll allow you to guess who prefers what.

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The moral of the story is that while you and you’re college roomie may be as thick as thieves in the current, post college growth finds us all. In our institutional lives, personalities may be the bookends of the spectrum, but the bond is the school you call home. In the post graduate world, that bond disappears and the life blood of a friendship depends on common interest. Although there is not much one can do to stop the growth process, it is manageable. Just as there were different tables in the high school cafeteria (the jocks, the preppies, the theatre folk) so too are there tables in the post graduate world. Today when I wish to lament about my daughter’s struggle to sleep through the night, I look to my friends sitting at the “We Have Kids Your Kid’s Age, We Feel You Bro” table. When looking for companionship at football tailgate, I drift to the “No Kids, Just Career” table. Lastly, when I’m in a mood that makes me reminiscent of my days as an undergraduate, fraternity scoundrel, I dip to the “It’s Still 2003, Let’s Get Crunk” table, where I find my undergraduate best friend, with smile on her face and beer in her hand. You see reader, the trick to growing up isn’t how to keep from losing friends, it’s how to craft a three dimensional life where everything has its own, awesome place.

An Easy and Filling, Vegetable Soup Recipe!

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soup1Now that we are headed into the colder months, you may find yourself craving a nice, hot bowl of soup. If you have access to a kitchen, I have a great and easy recipe for you! This recipe is delicious and actually really filling. It is super easy to make and does not require too much preparation. This soup will warm you up on a cold day and you’ll probably have leftovers for a few days!

What You’ll Need:

-1 carton/32 ounces of vegetable broth

-1/2-3/4 cup of cut and peeled carrots, chopped

-4 stalks of celery, chopped

-3/4 cup of cabbage, chopped

-1/2 cup diced tomatoes

-Salt and pepper to taste

 Cooking Directions:

  1. Combine all of your ingredients into a medium-large sized pot and stir.
  1. Cook over medium heat and cover for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  1. Uncover and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir. Once you taste it, decide if you want to add more salt or pepper until you get it to your liking.
  1. Serve yourself (and some friends) a bowl and either keep leftovers simmering on low heat for seconds or pour into Tupperware to store in your fridge or freezer for more long lasting preservation!

*You can also add noodles, rice, or orzo to this recipe if you’d like. Or if you’re feeling in the mood, you can even add some matzo balls!

Now pour yourself some soup, grab a blanket, and curl up in front of your TV for a warm, relaxing night in!