Cool Dog Treats for the Summer

This summer has been hot hot hot! For us humans we can easily grab a tasty ice pop to help battle the heat. For our furry friends, staying cool can be a challenge. Regular old ice cubes do the trick, but how boring is that? Use these recipes to add some flavor to your dog treats that your dog is sure to enjoy!

Cool Dogs Treats for the Summer

Stuffed Kongs

Kongs are a great way to keep your dog entertained to begin with but throw it in the freezer and you have a way to keep them cool. Here are a few ways to stuff and freeze a Kong, but be sure not to stuff it to the brim!

  1. Mash a ripe banana and mix with one tablespoon of all-natural peanut butter. Stuff the mixture into a Kong and freeze.
  2. Stuff the Kong with treats and chicken brother. Seal the hole with peanut butter and freeze. As it melts, it can get messy so it’s best to give this treat to your pup outside.

Old School Ice Cubes with a Twist

Pour chicken or beef broth into ice cube trays. When frozen, place a few of these yummy pooch ice pops in the food bowl with your dog’s kibble, or simply add to the water bowl for a flavored beverage.

Bone Marrow Bones

You can go to your local butcher and ask for bone marrow bones. One your pup chews the marrow, you can reuse the bone. To make it a frozen treat, add peanut butter inside the bone and freeze!

Banana Bites

Cut up a banana into pieces and freeze. You can even coat the bites in peanut butter to make it extra tasty!

Why You Should Study Abroad

Studying Abroad

Believe it or not, summer is already almost over and it’s time for college students, freshman and upperclassmen alike, to get ready for fall semester. Though college life is exciting for most of us, it’s easy to fall into a routine. Luckily, most schools in the United States offer study abroad programs, where for certain amount of time, you could take classes in a different country! This summer, take the time to do some research on programs that your school offers before deadlines. As someone who just returned from studying abroad in New Zealand, I firmly believe that anyone, yes anyone, could have a life-changing experience studying abroad! Here’s why:

   Studying Abroad 

1) Excitement of Friendship

Studying abroad forces you to make new friends, which is surprisingly not as unpleasant as it sounds. In college, people tend to form a friend group and stick with those people for the whole four years. Although we make new friends here and there, we rarely make new best-friends. Unless you happen to be going on the trip with your besties, which I recommend avoiding, you’re thrown into a foreign country with other people who are just as scared and lost as you are. The nuance of bonding is amazing when you get to meet people who you might not have talked to before departure. You get to share stories, have deep conversations, and discover some cool things about people through travelling and exploring.

     Studying Abroad

2) Cultural Awareness

This seems like a given, but it really is something you need to experience to believe. New Zealand seems close enough to the States custom wise, but there really is a lot of differences to consider. For instance: the history. When taking history classes in the United States, I learned about United States history and European history. Now, while studying here, I’m learning Pacific history that I truly knew nothing about. People tend to view culture on a broad and global scale, sometimes disregarding the small underlying things that keep the world diverse and interesting. By studying abroad, you really get to experience it in ways that you can’t by reading a book.

  Studying Abroad

 3) Learning Through Loving

The place that you choose to study abroad reflects who you are. Some people base it off landscape and architecture, or because of ancestral roots, or maybe because the area has a lot of history that they’d love to learn more about. You choose where you want to be, and if you’re excited to be there and to explore, then you will fall in love. You will meet people who have insane stories, see things that you only thought would be in books, make memories that feel novel worthy, and form friendships and bonds with amazing people. Through traveling and learning in a foreign country, enthusiasm fuels your experience, and the combination produces something extraordinary.

   Studying Abroad

4) Breaking from Habit

Routine has its pros, but in my opinion, young adults should stay as far away from routine as possible. The process of college is normally pretty hectic, but it’s still four years of classes in the same school. Studying abroad gives you a healthy break from that area. It also allows you to take classes in some great parts of the world without having to transfer or take a gap year. It removes you from the homogeneity of normal college routine and allows you to restructure how you go about your days. This keeps life exciting through a sense of spontaneity.

Obviously everybody is different, but when considering the pros and cons of studying abroad, also remember the magnanimity of the opportunity presented. Traveling is special, but spending time in a foreign country where you get to go to school and have time to explore is really a once in a lifetime chance.

Miss Teen USA Makes a Positive Change

Miss Teen USA

The Miss Teen USA pageant will no longer include the swimsuit portion. Instead, the contestants will be judged in a brand-new athletic wear competition. Over the past few years, the well-known pageant has been evolving and the stereotypical contestant has begun to fade. Miss Missouri Erin O’Flaherty will compete as America’s first openly homosexual contestant this year. The first hearing impaired contestant, Miss Pennsylvania Elena LaQuatra, will also be competing this year.

In order to justify the swimsuit category in the past, pageant officials have said it was to show off the athletic side of the contestants. However, that portion of the competition, for many young viewers, has instead focused purely on physical appearance. Young girls and teens in today’s generation have a high expectation for what their bodies should look like and the competition only adds fuel to the fire. According to the National Eating Disorders website, half a million teens struggle with eating disorders or disordered eating.

So far, the response to the new change has been overwhelmingly positive. Katherine Haik, the reigning Miss Teen USA told USA News: “This new direction for Miss Teen USA is a great way to celebrate the active lives that so many young women lead and set a strong example for our peers.”

Miss Universe president Paula Shugart shared in a memo that this shift is meant to “celebrate women’s strength, confidence and beauty” in a more positive way. “This decision reflects an important cultural shift we’re all celebrating that empowers women who lead active, purposeful lives and encourage those in their communities to do the same,” she wrote. Our hope is that this decision will help all of Miss Teen USA’s fans recognize these young women for the strong, inspiring individuals they are.”

It’s possible that the pageant will see an influx of competitors as parents may now be more open to the idea of their daughters competing. The change is also a smart business move. Former Miss Virginia Nancy Redd said: “Teens are spending .1 percent of their life in a bathing suit and 50 percent in athleisure. The pageant is following the trend of who can sponsor them.”

It’s nice to see the competition changing to focus more on who the girl is rather than what her body looks like. It’s time that women embrace their physical abilities rather than physical appearance and it also sends a positive message to young teens.

The 2016 Miss Teen USA pageant will be held in Las Vegas on July 30.

July 2016 Music Festival Guide

July Music Festival Guide

It seems like summer of 2016 is already flying by! You might feel some serious FOMO if you missed some of June’s festivals like Bonnaroo, EDC Vegas, Firefly, or Electric Forest. Not to worry though because festival season is only getting started. Here are some music festivals that you shouldn’t miss out on! Here is your July 2016 music festival guide!

1) Lollapalooza: July 28-July 31

Located in Grant Park, Chicago, Lollapalooza is a favorite among many. This year is special too because it’s the festival’s 25th anniversary and is including a 4th day instead of its normal three days. It has an A-List set of headliners including Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, LCD Soundsystem, Lana Del Rey and more along with dozens of amazing artists and performers. This year is definitely going to be a hit so I recommend buying tickets ASAP. Oh, and be sure to get some Chicago deep dish pizza after the fest to carb up for dancing the next day!

2) Camp Bisco: July 14- July 16

For those who like to get really down and dirty, check out Camp Bisco. Though Camp Bisco has been around for awhile, it’s holding its second year in Scranton, Pennsylvania. It’s going to be wild. With a great mix of jam bands and electronic artists like Odesza, The Disco Biscuits, STS9, Zeds Dead, and Big Grizmatik (Big Gigantic +Griz+Gramatik) you’ll be dancing until dawn.

3) Wayhome: July 22-July 24

So maybe you missed Bonnaroo? No big deal! Just about 45 minutes north of Toronto, Ontario is the perfect three day camping festival with a killer lineup. Celebrating just its second year, Wayhome Music and Arts festival is hosting big names such as LCD Soundsystem, The Killers, Arcade Fire, Major Lazer, and M83. Also, be prepared for lots of poutine and maple syrup!

4) Bass Center: July 29-July 30

If you like Bassnectar then luckily he has his own festival. At the end of July, Bassnectar is hosting Bass Center, a two day fest in Denver, Colorado. This year, along with two sets from Bassnectar himself (surprise), is Flux Pavilion, Wu Tang Clan, Porter Robinson, and more!

5) Panorama: July 22-July 24

Supposedly the Coachella on the east coast, Panorama festival is hosting it’s first ever year. So far it’s looking amazing. On Randall’s Island, NYC, artists like Arcade Fire, Kendrick Lamar, Major Lazer, and LCD Soundsystem are taking the stage for the initiation of a hopefully great new festival. And in New York, we can expect some great after parties.

Lessons from Buddhist Poets Issa & Ryokan

When I went to college for the first time, I was completely overwhelmed. I felt like I was being forced to let go of my childhood. All the students seemed happy; they gathered in circles, instinctively picking out peers to befriend. As college went by, I found myself comparing memories. I compared my childhood with my young adulthood. I wondered why I had found so much love at home and so little at college. My memories became dangerous; they trapped me in anger and kept me attached to my ego. I became angry at myself for holding onto my childhood; why couldn’t I enjoy my “adulthood?” I was in danger of becoming bitter; I felt as though I was pitted against the world.

Our memories are sometimes dangerous, but they also have the potential of being extremely liberating. If we learn to see the world in all its complexity, we can look at our memories with detachment and honesty. The ancient Buddhist poets Issa and Ryokan both experienced the sadness and isolation we sometimes feel in college. Yet, instead of becoming bitter and self-pitying, they learned from their pain. Both men learned how to “become children” again; they learned how to live in the present. Childhood is not something that is lost suddenly; it fades away, and at moments, it shines through. Issa and Ryokan taught me this. I have learned how to cultivate the freedom and appreciation children feel for every moment and keep this vivacity alive throughout college and on into adulthood. It is only pain that threatens to destroy the passion we all have for life. Here are the important lessons I have learned from them to help put college into perspective. 

Reach for Happiness

Lessons Learned from Buddhist Poets Issa & Ryokan

Issa has profound insight into the nature of the world. He believes we “walk on the roof of hell/gazing at flowers.” Most humans only “gaze” and hope for happiness, instead of reaching for it. We look backwards and forwards in time, waiting for the next “flower,” instead of appreciating the moment, whether the moment is painful or pleasurable. We look forward to college weekends, instead of enjoying the day in front of us. It is often difficult to see that time is not linear; we are not trapped on Earth, waiting to reach something greater. We are simply living every day as it comes, attempting to be present in every moment. It is natural that some of these moments will be painful and some will be joyous. Though college can be extremely stressful, that does not mean we should avoid these painful moments.

Remain in the Present Moment

Lessons Learned from Buddhist Poets Issa & Ryokan

Issa uses his memories as fuel to help him understand how to live a meaningful life. Even in a poem Issa wrote about his deceased daughter, there is a simplicity and a sense of peace. Issa recalls the “scarlet flowers/she liked to pick.” He gives no reflection; he simply remembers his daughter and her love of flowers. He seems to learn from the simplicity of his daughter; it is important to love the flowers and to be happy in the moment. Issa reflects on the past, but he does not get stuck in it. Issa seems to understand that being “here” is all you can be. The snow will fall and life will always continue. If you are a part of this world, you have a duty to be fully “here;” if you are not, you are missing out on life.

Learn From Children

Lessons Learned from Buddhist Poets Issa & Ryokan

In their self-healing, both Issa and Ryokan come back to images of children and the relationship between parent and child. This sacred relationship captures the complex nature of the world. The past is always disappearing, making room for the present. Yet, remnants of the past always remain. In modern society, we often see a clear separation between “child” and “adult”. We assume that, as we enter college, we abandon the immature child inside of us and become mature adults. However, as we age and move away from home, we are continuously tempted by the world; college tempts us to see ourselves as independent and egocentric.

Like flowers, children bloom. The world is always unfolding and bringing new things in and out of being. Ryokan refers to the “three thousand worlds,” or the multiplicity of the world we so often see as singular and linear. There is no objective world; we all have our own lives, and our lives are intertwined with the lives of everything around us. Ryokan appears to understand that there is no “winning” or “losing;” life does not pit the ego against the rest of the world. Likewise, we are not competing with our fellow students; it is not us versus them.

Ryokan knows that “if we gain something, it was there from the beginning” and that if we “lose anything, it is hidden nearby.” This mantra applies to perfectly to college life. If we experience joy, we must appreciate this joy, yet we must be careful not grow attached to it. We must love the feelings and experiences of the current moment just as children do. When we lose something, we must accept this and not curse the world for taking something away from us. Time is not linear; things that are lost will eventually be found. Perhaps we will recover what is lost in a different form, just as Ryokan did. As Ryokan aged, he seemed to grow closer to his youth. He spent his time with children, laughing and thinking about how time passes and how people change. We are all capable of recovering the innocence of our childhood and the joy we had as children.

Live Passionately

Lessons Learned from Buddhist Poets Issa & Ryokan

Both Issa and Ryokan warn us that we must not let our memories consume us. We must not live in the past or in the future; there is only the present moment. As we go through college, we cannot look back; we can reflect on our past, but we must always remain present. In our moments of sadness, we must follow Issa and Ryokan’s lead: we must use our pain to create something beautiful. These poets found a way to honor the beauty of the world and accept the pain. Issa believed that “this world is like a rope, flailed with strands of joy and anger, pain and pleasure. All that meets will part.” Many call Issa a cynic, but truly, he is a realist; the world is filled with unbelievable happiness and unbearable pain. Sadness is an essential part of life; it reminds us that we must cherish every moment. We must live by Issa’s example and use our “cynicism” to make our lives honest and beautiful. We must also follow Ryokan’s lessons and learn to love every moment for what it is. Childhood is not something that must be forgotten as you grow up. Childhood may fade away, but, at moments, it shines through us all. We must cultivate the freedom we enjoyed as children and the passion children have for every moment of life.